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Cunane, N.C. State women knock off No. 1 South Carolina
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Cunane, N.C. State women knock off No. 1 South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The eighth-ranked N.C. State's women's basketball team has knocked off No. 1 South Carolina and ended the Gamecocks' 29-game winning streak.

Kayla Jones scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Summerfield, N.C., native and Northern Guilford graduate Elissa Cunane added 14 points with 8-for-8 shooting at the free-throw line in the Wolfpack's 54-46 win Thursday night. 

Cunane and the Wolfpack defense held Aliyah Boston, South Carolina's 6-foot-5 sophomore contender for national player-of-the-year honors, to nine points and nine rebounds. State outscored South Carolina 30-28 in the lane.

"It starts with Boston, she's such a great player," State coach Wes Moore said after the game. "We hadn't counted on her knocking the threes down like she did (Boston made one long shot). We did a really good job swarming around her. I thought we did a pretty good job on the boards; it wasn't perfect. They're such a great offensive rebounding team. They're great in transition, they're great off the bounce."

South Carolina went 32-1 last season and won the SEC regular-season and tournament championships, and State won the ACC Tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum. But neither team advanced further because the NCAA Tournament was canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge in March. 

And this game wasn't a masterpiece and wasn't indicative of either team's potential. State was 20-for-68 from the field for 29.4 percent, and South Carolina shot 20-for-74 for 27 percent.

State played without 6-2 forward Jada Boyd, who is out with a knee injury.

"She's our best athlete," Moore said. "To come in here, we stuck with the veterans and they played a whole lot of minutes.

"I'm so proud of this team. I have great respect for (Gamecocks coach) Dawn Staley, what she did at Temple, the program she's built here. It's a great win for our program, but it's early in the year and we've got along ways to go."

Raina Perez started in place of Boyd and scored 11 points with four rebounds and four assists.

"This is such a big win," Moore said, "to go on the road and beat the No. 1 team in the country and short-handed, so to speak. We may not practice real hard tomorrow." 

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