CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP)Elissa Cunane scored 19 points, Diamond Johnson added 16 and No. 5 N.C. State remained atop the Atlantic Coast Conference by holding off Miami 76-64 on Sunday.
Kayla Jones added 11 points and six assists for the Wolfpack (14-2, 5-0), who only led by three early in the fourth quarter before pulling away.
”Miami, they just get after you on defense,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. ”They’re going to use a plethora of presses, they’re flying around … it’s not really conducive to my blood pressure, coming down here.”
Kelsey Marshall scored 17 points for Miami (7-5, 0-2). Ja’Leah Williams scored 15 and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi added 12 for the Hurricanes – who were playing just their second game in a 28-day span because of a holiday break and virus-related postponements.
”We got a heck of a lot better in a day, against an opponent that is absolutely as advertised,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. ”They’ve got great scoring, great post play, unbelievable coach and they’re very difficult to defend.”
Cunane was 8 for 10 from the field, taking all her shots in the final three quarters.
”I just had to be strong with the ball,” Cunane said. ”I just had to trust myself and be smarter in the second quarter and beyond.”
It was a rushed matchup, with both teams – as of Friday – scheduled to play other opponents on Sunday. Miami was supposed to play host to Louisville and N.C. State was supposed to go to Notre Dame.
But with Louisville and Notre Dame both in protocols, the ACC had to shuffle some games on the fly and the Wolfpack ended up going to Miami on minimal notice.
”It was pretty tough,” Cunane said. ”The COVID era. You never know who you’re going to play, if you’re going to play. I’m just glad we got down here and got a game in.”
Added Meier: ”We executed tonight with a one-day prep.”
It took the Wolfpack until the end to shake the Hurricanes, who outrebounded N.C. State 38-28.
”It wasn’t always pretty today but it’s a win,” Moore said. ”On the road in the ACC, you better take all those you can and move on.”
N.C. State opened up a 49-41 lead midway through the third; Miami scored the next five to make it a one-possession game again. The Wolfpack got a 3-pointer from Jakia Brown-Turner to push the lead back out to six; Marshall answered with a 3 of her own on the ensuing Miami possession.
Djaldi-Tabdi made a 3-pointer with 7:50 left to get Miami on N.C. State’s heels again, that time getting the Hurricanes within 59-56.
That would be Miami’s last hurrah. N.C. State finished the game on a 17-8 run, with six points in a 34-second span from Johnson – a three-point play followed by a 3-pointer with a minute left – putting the game away.
”All in all, glad to get out of here with a win,” Moore said.
N.C. State: It was, by far, N.C. State’s toughest ACC test yet this season. The Wolfpack won their first four conference games this season by 35, 27, 27 and 27 points, respectively.
Miami: The Hurricanes’ women’s basketball program turned 49 on Sunday. The first game in team history was Jan. 9, 1973 – a 37-21 loss to Miami-Dade North.
N.C. State: Visits Virginia on Thursday.
Miami: Visits Clemson on Thursday.
More 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