NC State's bench stepped up when needed vs. Pittsburgh

On3 imageby:Ethan McDowell02/11/24

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Mimi Collins suffered an apparent knee injury in the third quarter of No. 3 NC State women’s basketball’s 83-47 win over Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon. That cut her day short after the graduate forward hit her first 6 shots for 13 points in 12 minutes.

The Wolfpack had the game well in hand at that point, but the bench stepped up after trainers helped Collins off the floor. All 11 scholarship members of NC State’s roster played and scored against the Panthers.

Even though the second half minutes by the Wolfpack’s reserves came in a blowout, the production was a promising sign as the program will need some of those players to contribute if Collins misses any time.

Head coach Wes Moore did not have a firm update on the star forward after the win.

“They’ll have to do all the imaging and all that stuff,” Moore told WKNC. “Probably, best case scenario, you hope it’s maybe a situation where you can scope it if it’s some meniscus, cartilage or whatever… Hopefully it’s something they can do, and we can get her back maybe quickly.”

When Collins left the game, the team stepped up around her to preserve the lead. Freshman point guard Zoe Brooks played a huge part in that. She finished the game with 8 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. The guard set up 8 baskets in the second half.

This performance was Brooks’ best assist-turnover ratio of her young career.

“Zoe, 9 assists, 0 turnovers, unbelievable,” Moore said.

Moore pointed out that he needs to use the bench more. He relies heavily on the starting five, and the bench only played 35 combined minutes against Virginia Tech earlier in the week. Sometimes, the Wolfpack head coach said he can use the bench to refocus his stars.

A few early miscues by junior guard Aziaha James against the Panthers prompted an adjusted rotation by Moore.

“It’s a great motivator,” Moore said. “Aziaha had three turnovers in the first couple of minutes, and I took her out for a minute and then what does she do? She ends up with eight assists and zero turnovers the rest of the game.”

In addition to Brooks’ standout performance, freshmen Laci Steele and Maddie Cox combined to grab 9 rebounds. Junior forward Katie Peneueta hit 2 threes to finish with 6 points, and graduate center Lizzy Williamson scored 4.

NC State returns to the court Thursday, Feb. 15, for a 6 p.m. showdown with No. 12 Notre Dame on the road.

“With Mimi being injured here, some others are definitely going to have to step up,” Moore said. “It’ll be a tough challenge.”

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