RALEIGH, N.C. — Wes Moore knows his fourth-ranked North Carolina State team has talent. He just wants the Wolfpack to play a little, well, meaner.
Jumping all over Clemson on Thursday was a good start.
Kayla Jones scored 21 points and N.C. State beat Clemson 86-65, regrouping from an upset loss over the weekend to unranked rival North Carolina.
The Wolfpack (13-2, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored the game’s first 12 points on the way to a 17-2 lead in the opening 5 1/2 minutes. It was the edge that Moore is wanting to see from his team as it pushes deeper into February, particularly following the UNC loss.
“We’ve got unbelievable young people on this team,” Moore said. “The downside of that is sometimes they can’t maybe have that Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde-type mentality. When you step between the lines, you have to have a little bit of a mean side, whatever, to compete.
“We’re going to get everybody’s A-game and they’re going to come at us. We can’t be on our heels. … So that was the biggest thing: We need some people to get mad, you know?”
Jones outscored the Tigers in the opening period (11-9) and tallied 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting by halftime. N.C. State finished the game shooting nearly 52% while making 10 of 21 3-pointers, securing a 12th straight win in the series with that streak now stretching back more than a decade.
Delicia Washington had 24 points and eight rebounds for Clemson (10-8, 5-8), which never recovered from its bad start. The Tigers trailed 28-9 by the end of the first quarter and got no closer than 13 again, finishing the game shooting 41%.
“You have to give them all the credit for the way that they started the game, threw the first punch,” Clemson coach Amanda Butler said. “We were very reactive. I feel like what makes us a good team, (being) the aggressor – we were just really playing secondary to whatever N.C. State was doing.”
Clemson: The Tigers are trying to play their way into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons under Butler, and the program hadn’t gone since 2002 before her arrival. But this one got away quickly from the Tigers, who entered at No. 53 in the NCAA’s NET rankings.
“We’re absolutely talking about it because we think we’re an NCAA Tournament team,” Butler said. “But we’ve got to show up when the lights are on and prove it.”
N.C. State: The past week offered a pair of huge swings for the Wolfpack. First came a win at then-No. 1 Louisville, the team’s second road victory against a top-ranked team. Yet N.C State lost to the Tar Heels on Sunday, falling as a top-10 team to the Tar Heels for the third straight year. The Wolfpack responded by leading in this one by as many as 27 points.
It was a much better offensive showing for N.C. State compared to Sunday, when the Wolfpack shot 39% overall and 4 of 19 from 3-point range against the Tar Heels.
“I think we definitely moved the ball better,” said Jakia Brown-Turner, who celebrated her birthday with a 13-point game. “We got it inside and the inside created outside shots for us.”
Clemson hasn’t beaten N.C. State since January 2011. … Jones had failed to crack double figures in three of her previous five games. She made 8 of 10 shots while matching her career high of seven assists. … Amari Robinson had 11 points as the only other Tigers player to reach double figures. … Clemson made 6 of 23 3-pointers. … N.C. State’s Raina Perez had seven assists after having 13 against UNC while committing just three turnovers in those two games.
Clemson: The Tigers host Wake Forest on Sunday, the first of (as of now) four straight home games to close the schedule.
N.C. State: Notre Dame visits the Wolfpack on Monday in the annual Play4Kay game that benefits the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.