by Mike Potter
N.C. State has been able to coast through its first four women’s basketball games of the season, beating outgunned opposition by an average of 32 points.
The Wolfpack won’t likely win like that today.
This time first-year coach Wes Moore plays for the first time against a major opponent when Tulane (4-0) visits.
Wake Forest alum Lisa Stockton’s team, like the Wolfpack, was in the WNIT last season. But Tulane won 25 games.
This is the schools’ first meeting in women’s basketball. If State wins today, it could be considered one of the school’s best athletic victories since the baseball sub-regional last spring.
This time State establishes control in the first few minutes and holds a working margin throughout, cruising to a 59-46 victory.
The Wolfpack takes the lead for good on a Markeisha Gatling layup at 17:31 to make it 7-5, followed by a Myisha Goodwin-Coleman 3-pointer at 16:52.
State is up 31-23 at halftime on the strength of 13 points from Kody Burke, committing only three turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
The biggest lead is 15, and Tulane never gets closer than 10 over the final 16 minutes.
State shoots 40.3 percent from the floor to Tulane’s 35.6, grabs 39 rebounds to the Greenies’ 33 and commits 12 turnovers to 18 for the visitors.
Burke leads the Wolfpack with 24 points including a career-best 3-for-5 from 3-point land and nine rebounds. Gatling has 14 points and eight rebounds in just 17 minutes, while Goodwin-Coleman finishes with 10.
Freshman Leslie Vorpahl hits 22 for Tulane while Danielle Blagg, playing for the first time this season after a concussion, adds 10.
They said it …
Moore: “Tulane’s half-court trap gave us some trouble when we were wanting to be patient. But defensively we did a pretty good job on the post players. The fouls are still haunting us, especially when a team hits 18 of 21 free throws. It wasn’t real pretty, but hopefully we can learn from it and move on.”
Stockton: “We really felt like rebounding was going to be key. N.C. State does a tremendous job on the boards and getting extra shots. We didn’t want to give them fast-break points and easy baskets. We did a pretty good job at that, but not (with our rebounding.) We probably weren’t patient enough on offense. And Burke just killed us. We just couldn’t contain her. Containing her on the block is hard to do, but then she steps up and hits those outside shots.”
Burke: “I’m a little more comfortable with the 3-pointer for sure. It’s just a matter of me getting shots up before and after practice. I work on it a lot more, now that I’m playing outside so much. Tulane as concentrating on the inside, and when Keisha (Gatling) was in there they were putting two big players on her and that allowed the open shot more. We’re feeling good now and just want to keep it rolling.”
Gatling: “I was a little concerned with my fourth foul (at 14:40, with the Wolfpack up 42-27). After I went back in I didn’t change much. I just had to keep my hands low. I think our chemistry is good now. It’s not there yet, but with each game we’re getting better.”
What does it all mean?
That Moore has his first big win as Wolfpack coach under his belt.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Daniel’s 3-pointer to put the Wolfpack up 45-29 with 12:56 left.
NCSU: Won 5.
Tulane: Lost 1.
NCSU leads 1-0.
NCSU vs. Davidson, Monday, 6 p.m.
Tulane vs. Mississippi, Saturday, 3 p.m.