RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)Aziaha James matched her career high with 19 points as No. 8 North Carolina State ran away from Davidson for an 81-47 victory on Thursday night.
James also had three assists – and shot 5 of 6 on 3-pointers – as the Wolfpack (10-1) won their sixth straight game and final nonconference contest of the season. Camille Hobby added 14 points for N.C. State, while River Baldwin chipped in 11 points and a team-high 11 boards.
”I thought she had a great night,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said of James. ”She’s capable of doing that, especially when she’s shooting the 3 well. She’s explosive and can do some things. We’ve been trying to get her in the rotation more and give her opportunities. Obviously, tonight helps. It gives her some more credibility, to be quite honest.”
Davidson (4-7) was led by 10 points from Issy Morgan. Elle Sutphin, who started her collegiate career at N.C. State, contributed an all-around effort of six points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but N.C. State quickly rallied and finished the opening period on a 17-7 run to take a 10-point advantage into the second quarter. James gave the Wolfpack a boost off the bench, making all three of her 3-point attempts during that stretch.
N.C. State then outscored Davidson 19-7 in the second quarter to take a 22-point lead into intermission. Baldwin had six points and seven rebounds for the Wolfpack in the second quarter.
The Wolpack flipped 14 Davidson turnovers into 19 points, while the Wildcats only scored three points off N.C. State’s nine turnovers. N.C. State also outscored Davidson 44-30 in the paint.
”I think the rebounding was a huge issue for us. It was something that we were constantly talking about and just weren’t able to execute throughout the game,” Davidson coach Gayle Coats Fulks said, adding that the Wolfpack ”were very disciplined at going to the glass with a lot of players and we just didn’t have enough bodies in there that were able to go get the ball. That created some fouls and second-chance points.”
Davidson: This is the third time this season the Wildcats have lost to a Power Five opponent. Davidson had won two straight games coming in, but was outmatched against N.C. State. The disparity in skill and size showed on the glass, where the Wolfpack outrebounded the Wildcats 43-24.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack were without two starters and still outplayed their opponent by a comfortable margin, leading by as much as 36 points. While Diamond Johnson and Jada Boyd got to nurse their injured ankles, reserves like James and Mimi Collins got the chance to play more minutes than usual. Building that sort of confidence in its bench could help N.C. State when it gets into the thick of Atlantic Coast Conference play.
In place of Johnson at point guard, Saniya Rivers earned her first career start for the Wolfpack. The South Carolina transfer finished the game with eight points, three rebounds, two steals and a career best-matching five assists.
”It felt really good,” Rivers said. ”It was a little nerve-wracking, first start as a sophomore, but I had a lot of fun just being a floor general and getting my teammates involved. I don’t really have to score to be happy. I think I smiled every possession coming down the court. That’s all that matters to me.”
The former top-five recruit never started a game for the Gamecocks. Rivers is averaging 11.5 points and 3.5 assists over her last four games, all wins for the Wolfpack.
Moore said he wasn’t sure when Johnson and Boyd might return, so more starts could be in the near future for Rivers.
Davidson: Keeping it in-state, the Wildcats travel to Elon on Sunday.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack open ACC play Sunday by hosting Clemson.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25