Kiara Leslie scored 20 points as third-seeded North Carolina State used a few strong first-half stretches to build a lead and go on to a 63-51 victory against visiting Maine in the first round of the Women’s NCAA Tournament Greensboro Region on Saturday afternoon at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.
Elissa Cunane, a freshman center in her first NCAA Tournament game, racked up 16 points and nine rebounds for N.C. State (27-5)
The Wolfpack meets sixth-seeded Kentucky, an 82-77 winner against Princeton in the day’s first game at the site, in Monday’s second round.
Kai Crutchfield had 14 points for N.C. State, which shot 46.2 percent from the field.
Parise Rossignol tallied 19 points and Dor Saar scored 16 points for Maine (25-8), which shot 33.9 percent from the field. Fanny Wadling chipped in with nine points.
Thirty-seven of Maine’s 59 shots were 3-point attempts. It made 11.
The Black Bears shaved their deficit to 11 in the third quarter but the Wolfpack didn’t allow them to sustain a rally.
Maine had won in the area earlier in the season with an upset at North Carolina, which also took a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The 14th-seeded Black Bears couldn’t repeat that success on this trip, however.
N.C. State finished with a 38-29 rebounding advantage.
The Wolfpack had strong closing stretches to the first two quarters to hold a 39-22 lead at the break. The Wolfpack shot 50 percent from the field in the first half compared to Maine’s 31 percent.
Crutchfield posted the last seven points in the first half in a 45-second span as the Wolfpack notched the 11 straight points before halftime.
Earlier, N.C. State closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run for a 19-10 lead.
Leslie had eight points in the opening quarter and 13 by halftime.
The Black Bears were trying to do damage from the perimeter, with 10 of their first 14 shots from 3-point range.
—Field Level Media