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No. 3 NC State bounces back from loss to No. 16 Virginia Tech with 83-47 win over Pitt

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PITTSBURGH (AP) 鈥 The Atlantic Coast Conference is as unrelenting this season as it ever has been in No. 3 North Carolina State coach Wes Moore鈥檚 11 years on the job.

Moore knows the Wolfpack know can ill afford a misstep if they want to be on top. They avoided one in an 83-47 win over rebuilding Pittsburgh on Sunday, bouncing back from a home loss to No. 16 Virginia Tech on Thursday by burying the Panthers during a dominant second quarter that allowed them to pull away.

鈥淲e said all season 鈥榯ake it one game at a time鈥 and you can鈥檛 let one game set you back,鈥 said center River Baldwin, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. 鈥淚t鈥檚 just a mindset.鈥

The bigger, more athletic Wolfpack (21-3, 9-3 ACC) outrebounded the Panthers 47-38 and outscored them 38-18 in the paint while beating Pitt (7-18, 1-11) for the ninth straight time.

Madison Hayes led N.C. State with 16 points, though the Wolfpack鈥檚 win came at a potentially high cost. Forward Mimi Collins needed to be helped off the floor early in the third quarter when she got caught in a pile of bodies underneath the Pitt basket.

Collins, who finished with 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting, appeared to be favoring her left leg as she limped to the locker room.

鈥淲e鈥檒l do the imaging thing (Monday) and hope and pray it鈥檚 something (minor),鈥 Moore said. 鈥淚t鈥檇 be great if ... just rest would work, but if not, something less invasive like maybe a scope or something would be good news I guess. Hopefully we can get her back sooner than later.鈥

N.C. State shot only 35% from the floor against the Hokies, a game in which Baldwin managed just four points and a single field goal while Collins went 0 for 9.

There were no such issues against the smaller Panthers. N.C. State spread the floor and looked inside for the 6-foot-5 Baldwin, who made 6 of 8 shots while having little trouble getting to the low block.

The Panthers were competitive for most of the first quarter, relying on jumpers by senior Liatu King to stay close. Yet they could muster little outside of whatever King hit, and when the Wolfpack hit the gas, Pitt struggled to keep up.

Aaryn Battle led Pitt with 11 points. Marley Washenitz and Jala Jordan added 10 for the Panthers. King, who came in averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds a game, finished with nine points 鈥 her second-lowest total of the season 鈥 and 12 boards.

N.C. State shot 13 of 16 (81%) in the second quarter to pull away, making whatever basket it wanted against Pitt鈥檚 ineffective zone defense. If the Wolfpack weren鈥檛 making layups in transition, they were dropping it inside Baldwin as N.C. State built a 53-20 lead that the Panthers never came close to threatening.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: The Wolfpack, coming off three straight home games against ranked opponents, began a stretch that includes four of five on the road by handling a Pitt team near the bottom of the conference with ease.

Pitt: The Panthers have nowhere to go but up under first-year head coach Tory Verdi. While King has been one of the best (and most unheralded) players in the ACC, there is plenty of work to be done.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: Visits No. 12 Notre Dame on Thursday.

Pitt: Travels to North Carolina on Thursday.

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Get alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. . AP women鈥檚 college basketball: /hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and /hub/womens-college-basketball

Graves is a national writer for 老澳门六合彩, based in Pittsburgh. He covers the NFL, MLB, NHL, the Olympics and major college sports.