Wolfpack opens with 80-46 exhibition win over WSSU

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC State Wolfpack women’s basketball team won its opening and only preseason game of the year against the Winston-Salem State Lady Rams at Reynolds Coliseum on Sunday.

With eight returning players, including four starters, the Wolfpack, led by new head coach Wes Moore, began the program’s 40th season of play with an impressive 80-46 win during the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

Even though a 34-point win would usually be reason to celebrate, the goal and purpose Moore has in leading the program that he was an assistant coach under the direction of late Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow is to return it to a level of competitive prominence.

“It’s always nice to win, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Moore said.

“We’ll get the coaches together here in a few minutes and we’ll start looking at the film.”

Senior center Markeisha Gatling led all scorers with 15 points while redshirt senior forward Lakeesa Daniel (12 points, 7 rebounds), redshirt junior Len’Nique Brown (9 points, 7 assists,5 rebounds), senior forward Kody Burke (9 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound), and freshman guard Miah Spencer (8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) helped to propel the Wolfpack’s offense right from the opening tip.

It took NC State only 15 seconds to get on the board as the new four-out-one-in offense that Moore has instituted worked to perfection as Gatling scored the first layup of the game off a perimeter pass from Burke.

“Let the defense pick their poison,” Moore said.

“If they don’t double, then we’re hopin’ that Keisha can score one-on-one. And if they do double, then we’ve got to first of all be able to make a good pass out…hopefully that will open up some things on the perimeter and we need to knock some of those shots down.”

Though the Lady Rams stayed close for the first four-and-a-half minutes of play, the Wolfpack put together a 20-6 run, initiated by Spencer’s first collegiate three-pointer, that eventually extended its lead to 16 points just five minutes later.

“She plays hard, she’s got a basketball I.Q.,” Moore said of Spencer.

“She actually led us in rebounding which says something about her intensity and aggression.”

As the Wolfpack ran its offense from the inside-out throughout the game, scoring 38 points in the paint, it also received significant contributions (35 points) from its bench players as the team shot 46 percent (26-56) from the field and added 18 total assists.

Even while scoring points and keeping a double-digit lead over its opponent which ballooned up to as many as 39 points, NC State’s rebounding play wasn’t at the level that Moore expected it to be.

“Rebounding-wise, we didn’t do a very good job really of keeping them off the offensive boards, so that’ll be an area we need to focus on,” Moore continued.

“Defensively, the way we want to play, the philosophy we have, we didn’t really carry out our roles there as well as we’d like.”

Moore elaborated on his point.

“The way we want to try to play defensively, we wanna’ keep the ball on one side of the floor and we did not do that – whether off the dribble or off the pass.”

In hearing Moore sprinkle his team’s lone exhibition win with sugar and spice, one thing was abundantly clear – the Wolfpack will be a team that won’t be allowed to achieve anything less than the expectations of success he has set for it.

“We’ll get there,” he said.

“It’s a work in progress and we’ll keep trying to get better.”