CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kayla Jones and her North Carolina State teammates had no idea how well they’d shot the ball in the first half until coach Wes Moore clued them in.
The eighth-ranked Wolfpack set an NCAA record by going 12 for 12 from 3-point range in the half, building a 46-32 lead en route to a 75-64 victory at Virginia. They extended their streak to 13 straight on Jones’ third 3 early in the third quarter, breaking the mark of 11 straight set by TCU against Lamar on March 3, 1996.
“He told us not to get too big-headed, to continue to play defense and score the ball,” Jones said of her coach.
Moore joked afterward, saying, “I personally worked with them on their 3-point shooting this week,” but added, “we’ve got kids that can shoot it, but you don’t ever expect that.”
Especially since the Wolfpack had been cold in recent games, losing three of five. Moore still found plenty of shortcomings to focus on at halftime, and after the game.
Twelve first-half turnovers, for example.
“When you are shooting like that, you want to take care of the ball and get shots,” Moore said. His team turned it over just four times in the second half.
Jones finished with 16 points, Elissa Cunane had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Aislinn Konig scored 14 for the Wolfpack (25-4, 14-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). Kai Crutchfield finally ended the 3-point streak when she missed from in front of the Wolfpack bench in the third.
Amandine Toi led Virginia (13-16, 8-10) with 13 points and Kylie Kornegay-Lucas had 11. The Cavaliers had won their previous five at John Paul Jones Arena.
Coach Tina Thompson said she thought most of the 3-pointers the Wolfpack made were contested, and a product of a plan to take away inside scoring.
“We had a game plan and we had to take away something,” she said. “In our first game, Cunane, she killed us,” the second-year Cavaliers coach said.
That was Jan. 5, an 80-60 victory for N.C. State, and Cunane had 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“I wouldn’t change this game plan we had today if we had to play them again tomorrow,” Thompson said. “I would dare them to make 12 in a row again. It’s just one of those experiences that you have in your basketball lifetime that you’ll probably never see again.”
N.C. State led by 54-34 after Konig’s fourth 3-pointer early in the second half, but Virginia gradually closed to within 65-55 after Toi’s third 3-pointer with 5:26 to play. The Cavaliers got within 68-60 on a three-point play by Kornegay-Lucas with 1:46 left, but Jones converted a free throw, missed the second and Elissa Cunane scored off an offensive rebound to push the margin back to 11.
Jakia Brown-Turner had 12 points for N.C. State. The Wolfpack matched their season high with 14 3-pointers (in 22 tries).
The game was played without an operational shot clock in the second half, so the public address announcer counted down the final 10 seconds of each possession.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack have to hope their marksmanship from beyond the arc is a sign of good things to come now that the postseason is next. They had made just 30 of 114 3s in their previous six games, or 26.3%.
Virginia: The Cavaliers have forced more than 17 turnovers per game this season, and N.C. State had 16, but Virginia didn’t do much with them, converting them into just 10 points.
The Wolfpack, seeded second, will open ACC Tournament play on Friday.
Virginia will play an opening-round game in the ACC Tournament on Wednesday.
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