CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Jada Boyd works to fill the role of injured guard Kayla Jones for No. 5 North Carolina State. She did that to perfection against Clemson.
Boyd, last year’s ACC Sixth Player of the Year, set season highs with 18 points and eight rebounds as the Wolfpack won their 13th straight over the Tigers 79-52 on Thursday night.
Jones tweaked a knee injury recently and North Carolina State coach Wes Moore decided to give her a little more recovery time.
“She’s our glue,” Boyd said of Jones. “So just having to step up and take on her role, that’s what I decided to do this game.”
Boy, did she ever. Boyd had two early layups to ignite a 12-0 surge as the Wolfpack (12-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) gained control and went on to their fourth straight 3-0 start in league play.
Moore was pleased with Boyd’s performance and believes she’s rounding into form after missing the first five games of the season due to injury.
“It’s good to see her play like this,” the coach said.
Boyd is happy to do whatever she’s asked. If that means score more points or play tighter defense, the 6-foot-2 junior is ready.
“This game really did help my confidence overall,” Boyd said. “So I did feel like I was getting back in the groove.”
Diamond Johnson added 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists for North Carolina State.
Clemson cut into the lead in the second quarter, drawing within 32-23 with three minutes to go before halftime. But then North Carolina State cranked things up once more in the third to take a 66-35 lead.
The Tigers (6-7, 0-2) played without three of their top four scorers, who were listed as unavailable. Freshman guard Madi Ott had a career-best 14 points to lead Clemson, including four 3-pointers.
North Carolina State hasn’t lost to Clemson since January 2011 and made sure the streak didn’t end.
The Wolfpack scored 12 straight points to take control. Boyd began the charge with two layups before Johnson and Jakia Brown-Turner followed with consecutive 3-pointers. When Johnson added a layup about 30 seconds later, North Carolina State was up 25-9.
Clemson was without guards Delicia Washington (12.5 points per game), Kiara Lewis (9.6 ppg) and Daisha Bradford (7.9 ppg).
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack showed the versatility that makes them strong contenders for the ACC title. Five players made 3-pointers as North Carolina State shot 45% (9 of 20) from behind the arc. The team also dominated the boards (47-30) and had 14 steals.
Clemson: The Tigers would’ve been hard-pressed to win this one even if completely healthy. Missing their two leading scorers and three of their top four, it would’ve taken a complete collapse from North Carolina State for Clemson to prevail.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Even in victory, Moore saw too many things to work on with the Wolfpack. He thought they had too many turnovers, missed far too many open shots and didn’t play as strongly on defense as he’d like. “We’re getting ready to enter a gauntlet,” he said of ACC play.
HELP ON THE WAY
Clemson coach Amanda Butler hopes her players in virus protocol will be OK to return in time for the next game Sunday. “I feel like everybody else, there are lessons I’m learning every day,” she said. “What are the protocols? How are the protocols applied? I know the powers that be are doing their best to keep everyone updated.”
North Carolina State has a week off before facing No. 24 North Carolina on Jan. 6.
Clemson starts a two-game road trip Sunday at No. 24 North Carolina.
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