RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)North Carolina State coach Wes Moore has been uneasy during the opening week of the season. That’s because he wants his No. 5 Wolfpack in top form as soon as possible.
He saw signs of that as Elissa Cunane scored 18 points, Kia Crutchfield had 17 and N.C. State routed Florida 85-52 on Sunday.
”I know I’ve been hard on them,” Moore said. ”It has been tough on them. I think we have a lot of talent, so I think we should be playing at a certain level.”
The Wolfpack (2-1) closed the first quarter on a 19-3 run for a 29-15 edge and kept pulling away.
”Just really excited about the way we came out,” Moore said. ”I thought our veterans set the tone. Everybody else came in and performed really well.”
Moore earned his 750th career victory. Now in his ninth season with the Wolfpack, he’s 750-235 with previous stops at Maryville College, Francis Marion and Chattanooga.
Moore said he wants his team to embrace some basic concepts. He’d like it to be simple.
”Don’t tell the chancellor that,” Moore said. ”I want him to think this is a tough job.”
N.C. State is the Atlantic Coast Conference’s preseason favorite. It’s fine with the players if their coach tests them.
”It’s understandable,” Crutchfield said. ”Early, get all the jitters out.”
It was by far the smoothest performance for the Wolfpack after a loss to top-ranked South Carolina and too many ragged stretches against Wofford.
”I thought we would start at a little higher plane,” Moore said. ”We’re trying to be great, instead of just worrying about that scoreboard.”
Cunane said the Wolfpack can’t wait to peak if a special season is to develop.
”To do that we need to come out like we never have before,” she said.
Kayla Jones scored 10 points for N.C. State, which connected on 11 of 18 attempts from 3-point range. Crutchfield was 4 for 4 from long range.
”When their shooters are shooting at the rate that they were, they’re a difficult team to beat,” Florida interim coach Kelly Rae Finley said.
Kiara Smith scored 16 points and Nina Rickards had 12 points for Florida (1-2), which made only 32.2% of its shots from the field.
Cunane grabbed 12 rebounds as part of the Wolfpack’s 41-30 advantage on the boards.
Crutchfield scored 10 points in the first quarter. N.C. State hit six 3-point baskets in the first half, including on both of its last two possessions for a 48-27 lead.
”We were knocking down shots,” Cunane said. ”It’s clicking offensively.”
Florida: The Gators have had issues on the defensive end. Two days after yielding 37 first-quarter points in a loss to Towson, they didn’t have much luck containing N.C. State. After Towson connected from 3-point range 12 times, it was the interior work that was the trouble at times Sunday with the Wolfpack posting 38 points in the lane.
”There’s a lot to learn from playing a team like this,” Finley said. ”We need to work on our balanced attack. We will see teams like this in the SEC, and so it’s a good challenge early on.”
N.C. State: The Wolfpack seems fully recovered from the season-opening loss to No. 1 South Carolina. After scoring just 57 points in that game, N.C. State tallied 90 against Wofford and then Sunday’s output. The Wolfpack has passed the halfway mark of a five-game homestand to begin the season, so there has been time to sort through glitches.
Florida: Stays in Raleigh for Monday’s game vs. Wofford
N.C. State: Home Monday night vs. Towson.
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