RALEIGH, NC – Kiara Leslie felt like NC State would have an advantage on Maryland coming in to the game due to her knowing some of their plays and tendencies after transferring from Maryland last season. NC State was able to get an early lead on the Terrapins and never looked back, as Leslie dropped 21 points and 11 rebounds to help Wes Moore’s team advance to the Sweet Sixteen. This will be Moore’s first appearance in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland would get on the board first with Channise Lewis free throw after a quick NC State foul.
Akela Maize would open the scoring for the Lady Wolfpack with an easy layup assisted by Ace Konig.
The Lady Wolfpack would use a tough defensive stretch to hold Maryland scoreless for over three minutes in the first quarter. During that period, NC State would go on a run with Akela Maize hitting two free throws and Kaila Ealey putting up five straight points to give State the 9-3 advantage.
Ieshia Small would get the first Maryland basket with midrange jumper 1:07 remaining in the quarter.
End of one NC state led 18-11.
Kiara Leslie would take over for the Lady Wolfpack, accumulating two steals then taking the ball the full length of the court for two fast break layups to extend the NC State score to 24-13 with 8:44 remaining in the quarter
Maryland would go on a three-minute stretch with no field goals.
Kaila Ealey, Chelsea Nelson and Maize all would be sent to the bench with foul trouble
NC State would record three straight turnovers and Maryland would use an 8-0 run to cut the score to 24-21.
Both teams ended the half on a two-minute scoring drought to head in to the break with NC State having a 32-36 advantage.
Ieshia Small with the nice post move to cut the Terrapin deficit to one 35-34
Kiara Leslie with the steal and fast break layup on back-to-back plays.
Brianna Fraser cuts it to one before Nelson would get a layup to go to extend the lead back to three. Kiara Leslie would hit a three-pointer on the next possession to extend to five-point game 41-36.
Leslie three 45-36 to cap the 8-0 run for Lady Wolfpack. The former Terrapin would finish with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Fraser with a technical foul for consistently letting Maize know when she scores a basket. Leslie would hit the two free throws.
Following the technical foul, NC State would respond with three-pointers from Ace Konig and Kai Crutchfield to extend the lead to 15 with the score 53-38 with 1:11 remaining in the quarter.
16-2 run ended by Kaila Charles tough midrange jumper.
Kai Crutchfield would drain a corner three to send NC State in to the fourth quarter up 56-40. Crutchfield finished the game with 8 points. Nelson had 10 points, 7 rebounds while Kaila Ealey and Ace Konig both finished with 12 points.
Despite Maryland shooting 58.3% from the field in the second half, NC State’s defense would not let the Terps get any closer than 11 as the Lady Wolfpack would advance to the Sweet Sixteen with a score of 74-60.
Leslie, a Holly Springs, NC-native, was a recent transfer from Maryland after graduating back in the summer. Leslie stated that her teammates “knew that this game was important to [her].” The redshirt Senior was proud of her teammates for being ready to play today.
Coach Moore was very emotional after the victory, making sure everyone was aware that this NC State team was picked to finish 10th in the ACC. Now, they are in the Sweet Sixteen and awaiting the winner of Mississippi State and Oklahoma State.
Moore went on to describe how this team was like the team in 1995, when Kay Yow took NC State to the Sweet Sixteen. “Coach Yow. Fight. Battle. She battled cancer for 20 years.” The fifth-year leader of the Red and White continued “that’s what they have done. Just the way they keep fighting.”
The Lady Wolfpack will look to continue their fight next weekend as they will play the winner of the Mississippi State versus Oklahoma State game.