RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Kiara Leslie scored 20 points and North Carolina State beat Maine 63-51 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Elissa Cunane added 16 points in her first tournament game and Kai Crutchfield had 14 points to help the third-seeded Wolfpack (27-5) advance to the second round of the Greensboro Regional. They will face sixth-seeded Kentucky (25-7) on Monday.
N.C. State shot 46 percent, raced out to a big halftime lead and spent the second half holding onto it while winning a rare regular-season rematch in the first round. The Wolfpack beat Maine 84-46 on Dec. 15.
Parise Rossignol scored 19 points with five 3-pointers and Dor Saar added 16 points and four 3s for the 14th-seeded Black Bears (25-8). The two-time America East champions had their 14-game winning streak snapped.
Maine hit 11 3-pointers to hang around well into the fourth quarter, but trailed by double figures for the entire second half.
Maine: The Black Bears kept things much closer against N.C. State than they did during that 38-point loss, with the shooting of Saar and Rossignol preventing the deficit from growing into the 20s. But Maine couldn’t string together enough buckets to pull within single digits and put even more game pressure on the Wolfpack.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack were never really in danger of their first NCAA Tournament loss in Raleigh since 1983, or their first nonconference loss at Reynolds Coliseum in four years. But as they allowed Maine to hit enough 3s to stick around, they also never really delivered a knockout punch, either.
N.C. State: Faces Kentucky on Monday in the second round.