by Mike Potter
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State needed a basketball game on short notice when Fairfield’s trip to Raleigh was postponed on Tuesday.
It turned out to be against Elizabeth City State, a fellow member of the UNC system that belongs to the Division II CIAA and had also had a game wiped out by the winter storm. The agreement was announced on Friday.
This is the first meeting between the two schools, and both are on winning streaks with the Wolfpack winning three in a row and the Vikings seven.
The word has gotten out pretty well to Wolfpack fans and a few dozen from ECSU as well, as the announced crowd of 754 looks pretty realistic.
State gets a comfortable 80-50 victory, but it’s not as simple as just rolling the ball out and winning as the Vikings obviously have come to compete.
The Wolfpack gets its working margin before the first media timeout. Marissa Kastanek comes out firing and hits a pair of 3-pointers to start the scoring, and the Pack is up 18-4 following her short jumper with 15:44 left in the half.
But ECSU doesn’t fold right away. Stephanie Harper’s free throw with 8:25 left in the half cuts the advantage to 24-17, and the lead is only 40-26 at the break.
Behind 11 points from Bonae Holston and 10 from Kastanek the Wolfpack shoots 48.6 percent in the first half to ECSU’s 36.7 and leads the rebound battle 22-16.
State’s lead is only 40-28 following a Shatara Jackson jumper with 19:43 to go, but from there the Wolfpack slowly pulls away.
The Vikings can’t get the deficit under 20 over the last 15 minutes, and Brittany Strachan’s layup with 10 seconds left completes the scoring.
Holston leads the Wolfpack with 23 points and 10 rebounds, followed by freshman Breezy Williams with a season-high 13 points, Kastanek with 13 and Kody Burke with 12.
DaShera Boone finishes with 13 for ECSU, followed by Harper with 11 and Shaquella Johnson with 10.
State shoots 43.1 percent to the Vikings’ 31.9 and wins the rebound battle 56-37.
They said it …
NCSU coach Kellie Harper: “I think you can understand why we wanted to have a game. Our coaches and administrators had to work very hard over the past week to get this game. Hopefully we’ll get some kinks worked out. We wanted competition — I wanted to play a good team and we were fortunate that they needed a game. They came in here and played hard and we got a look at some pretty good athleticism. We did not have a scouting report. This was the first time in my career I did not have a scouting report going into the game, but we told the players this yesterday. They were aware that we were going to go into this game and go it ‘John Wooden style’ — we were going to worry about N.C. State and not worry about our opponent.”
ECSU coach Alico Dunk: “I thought this would be a great experience for my team. We played OK and did a lot of good things. We executed, but we just missed some wide-open shots. I don’t know if it was due to anxiety or what. They did everything I asked except rebound. My team is not going to quit and we’re going to have toughness. I’m hard on them every day about doing the little things that turn out to be big things and help you win games. We had some jitters, playing an ACC team and we’re little old Elizabeth City, but once we started in we found out we could play with them.”
Holston: “There were good things and bad things about us having that layoff. I feel really good right now. I was able to focus and take my time on the shots. ”
Kastanek: “I was just ready to play. It’s been since (Dec. 21) that we played a game. I was ready to do my thing. I was so excited to play without a scouting report. Now it’s back to ‘We can just play basketball’ — back to AAU and high school and just go out and play. I was telling our trainer today I wish nobody even scouted, because our best plays would work, and you could screen people and they wouldn’t know what was coming. I would just love playing without a scouting report; the only problem would be if they scouted you and you didn’t scout them.”
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack has tied its longest win streak in the Harper era at four games heading into ACC play. And that the Vikings can play well in stretches against an upper Division I team.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Holston’s first three-point play to make it 9-2 at 18:51.
NCSU leads 1-0.
NCSU: Won 4.
ECSU: Lost 1.
ECSU vs. Livingstone, Thursday, 5:30 p.m.
NCSU vs. Clemson, Thursday, 7 p.m.