RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)Having a player like Diamond Johnson is a luxury for N.C. State coach Wes Moore.
A season ago, she was an All-Big Ten selection at Rutgers. Now, she’s coming off the bench for No. 5 N.C. State.
”It’s pretty nice when you can bring Diamond Johnson in to give you a spark,” he said. ”She can give you more than a spark – she gives you a forest fire out there.”
Johnson scored 16 points and had six rebounds for N.C. State, which led wire-to-wire in a commanding 100-52 victory over Towson on Monday night.
Johnson also had three assists and two steals. Four other players for the Wolfpack (3-1) scored in double digits: Elissa Cunane with 15 points, Raina Perez with 13 points, Jakia Brown-Turner with 11 and Camille Hobby with 12.
Madison Hayes, a transfer from Mississippi State, had career highs in rebounds (12) and assists (6) for N.C. State.
”She’s really active,” Hobby said. ”She works really hard. So, when you work hard and you have a great attitude, and you crash the boards really hard, you’re going to get rebounds. That’s what she does.”
The Wolfpack were dominant in nearly all facets of the game. They shot 55.9% from the floor, 50% from behind the arc and 73.7% from the charity stripe.
Aleah Nelson paced the Tigers (3-1) with 17 points.
Towson struggled mightily from 3-point range, making just 3-of-31 shots from deep. The Tigers also had 13 turnovers to just three assists.
N.C. State: Johnson was the prized addition this offseason. After struggling in the season-opener against No. 1 South Carolina, the former All-Big Ten selection shined against Towson, showing she could be a real difference-maker. When Johnson was on the floor in the first quarter, N.C. State outscored Towson 14-1. She had seven of those points and two steals.
”I’m finally feeling more comfortable adjusting to a new program,” Johnson said. ”I’ve also been watching a lot of film, so, I pretty much know when I’m going to be able to get my shot. … Just being in the gym and being consistent and staying positive.”
Towson: The Tigers leave the WNIT Preseason Classic with a winning record, including a victory over Florida. They weren’t competitive against N.C. State, but could have enough talent to outperform expectations in the Colonial Athletic Association, where they were picked to finish fourth.
”We wanted to be challenged,” coach Diane Richardson said. ”We didn’t react like I thought we would. But it’s understandable. It’s a lesson for us today.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Wolfpack outrebounded Towson 54-30. It was the second time this season that N.C. State has collected at least 50 rebounds. A season ago, N.C. State grabbed 41.4 rebounds per game, which was 32nd best in the nation. They also led the ACC in rebounding margin.
N.C. State remained at No. 5 in the AP Top 25 Poll this week, and more dominant victories like Monday’s should keep them there.
N.C. State: Hosts Kansas State on Friday.
Towson: The Tigers are off for a week and host Division II Millersville University on Nov. 23.