Kiara Leslie’s 26 points and 10 rebounds lifted North Carolina State to a 72-57 victory against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament’s second round Monday night at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.
Freshman center Elissa Cunane provided 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Wolfpack. DD Rogers and Kia Crutchfield both added 11 points as the Wolfpack remained undefeated this season against teams outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Third-seeded NC State (28-5) meets second-seeded Iowa (28-6) in Saturday’s Greensboro Region semifinal in Greensboro, N.C. That’s less than a 90-minute drive from Raleigh.
It marked the second year in a row that NC State won two tournament home games to reach the Sweet 16.
Rhyne Howard’s 21 points and Maci Morris’ 18 points paced sixth-seeded Kentucky (25-8).
NC State didn’t seem bothered by 16 turnovers, in part because it controlled the boards with a 50-31 rebounding advantage.
Leslie shot 9 of 21 from the field, hitting 4 of 9 shots from 3-point range. Rogers tacked on 11 rebounds while Crutchfield and Cunane were both credited with six assists.
Kentucky ended up 9 of 29 on 3-point attempts. The Wildcats also were 4 of 6 from the foul line while the Wolfpack made 16 of 24 free-throw attempts. NC State hit 10 of 21 from long range.
NC State scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to stretch its lead to 60-48. More than 3 1/2 minutes elapsed in the quarter before Kentucky scored.
The Wildcats failed to make a sustained push after that.
NC State led 35-30 at halftime despite committing eight turnovers compared to Kentucky’s one.
Four members of the Wolfpack hit first-half 3-point baskets.
NC State had a 25-15 lead shrink to three points.
Kentucky took 10 more shots from the field in the first half but made only 31.6 percent.
—Field Level Media