ATLANTA (AP) — Elissa Cunane scored 17 points, Kiara Leslie added 16 points and No. 8 North Carolina State remained the nation’s lone unbeaten team in Division I with a 68-60 victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday.
The Wolfpack (20-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), a Sweet 16 team last season, are off to the best start in program history and their best ACC start in 30 years. They overcame 18 turnovers, most of them forced by Georgia Tech’s press, to beat a team that was 8-1 at home and off an upset win over No. 12 Syracuse.
N.C. State moved into sole possession of first place in the ACC following No. 1 Notre Dame’s loss at North Carolina.
Elizabeth Dixon finished with 17 points, and Elizabeth Balogun had 14 before fouling out for Georgia Tech (13-7, 3-4).
The Yellow Jackets ended the third quarter by missing 11 of their last 13 shots from the field and trailed by five. N.C. State took charge in the period with an 11-1 run that included two 3s by Leslie and another by Aislinn Konig.
N.C. State committed five fouls in the first 1:30 of the fourth, helping Georgia Tech force a 52-all tie on Francesa Pan’s 3, before Kayla Jones hit a 3, and the Wolfpack didn’t trail again.
It was a less hectic finish for N.C. State, which eked past Clemson by three points in its last game despite getting just two field goals and giving up eight offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter. Cunane had the deciding three-point play to put the Wolfpack up six with 1:23 remaining, cutting to the basket to catch Aislinn Konig’s inbound pass from the baseline for an easy layup.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack have won six straight since losing their leading scorer, Grace Hunter, to a season-ending knee injury. A lot of their success has come from Leslie, who has averaged 18.5 points over the stretch and is a transfer like Hunter who surpassed 1,000 career points.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets’ press forced five turnovers during a 5-minute scoring drought that helped them take a 23-21 lead, but N.C. State eventually settled down after committing 12 miscues in the first half. Georgia Tech’s biggest problem was missing too many layups and easy looks as the more experienced Wolfpack took charge.