NC State begins quest for ACC four-peat with blowout of Syracuse

The Wolfpack will play top-seeded Notre Dame on Friday

NC State players celebrate their ACC Tournament win over Syracuse on Thursday in Greensboro. (Shawn Krest / North State Journal)

GREENSBORO — NC State is not quite ready to surrender its title. The winners of the last three ACC Women’s Basketball Tournaments, the Wolfpack entered this year’s tourney in Greensboro as the No. 8 seed.  But the Pack served notice that they’re not going to be an easy out as they routed No. 9 Syracuse, 83-58 to open their quest for a four-peat.

“We should be confident coming in here,” said head coach Wes Moore, who won his 10th straight ACC Tournament game dating back to before the pandemic and recorded the 29th 20-win season of his coaching career. “We have had a roller coaster of a season, OK? We’ve had some great wins. We played a really challenging nonconference schedule and did really well in that. But we’ve had some disappointing losses. We always, every year, we come here, it’s a new season. We wipe the board. We come here, everybody is equal, let’s go get it.”

The Wolfpack went and got it by getting the ball inside against the Orange on Thursday. Centers Camille Hobby and River Baldwin combined for 30 points on 14-of-19 shooting to go with 13 rebounds.

“We feel like we need to do that,” said Moore. “Those two are very efficient inside, and when we get them the ball, they score. … We need to do that. That’s what we’ve done in the past is work inside-out, get them some touches. And then it’s easier for our guards to get looks too when we get our post touch and are able to kick it out. Both of them, I thought, played really well, and like I said, I thought on the boards they did a nice job. Again, we had some balance today, and that’s what you want to see.”

“They scored a lot in the paint,” said Syracuse guard Georgia Woolley, “and they outrebounded us by a lot. They had almost 20 more rebounds than us, so I think they really just dominated us down low, and we didn’t have an answer for them today in that respect.”

In addition to Hobby’s 16 and Baldwin’s 14, State had three other players in double figures: Jakia Brown-Turner with 16, Aziaha James with 10 and Madison Hayes with 10.

The Pack also came to play on the defensive end, shutting down first-team All-ACC player Dyaisha Fair. She hit just 4 of 17 from the field and 1 of 5 from 3 as State held her to nine points below her season average.

“I definitely have to say Madison locked her down,” said Brown-Turner. “We know she’s a great player and great scorer, but we just had to help on her. Actually, when she drove in the lane, we had to clog the lane up and make it hard for her. But Madison was on her most of the game, and she locked her down.”

“I think I would rate my defense a solid 9 out of 10,” said Hayes. “I thought I could have done better on a couple of possessions, not just me but Saniya, as well, Saniya Rivers. She did a great job, as well. We have to be in the gaps and help each other out as a team, and that’s what we did the whole game.”

NC State now moves on to face top-seeded Notre Dame on Friday.

“They’re regular season champs, so challenge. Got a challenge,” said Moore. “We’re excited about it, and we’re excited about being in Greensboro. We’ve had three years in a row winning this thing, so I know these players are used to winning, and they don’t want to go home.”