What to know about Notre Dame women's basketball No. 3-ranked opponent North Carolina State

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

Three things to know about the No. 3-ranked and top-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack (31-3) as they prepare to face No. 5 seed Notre Dame (24-8) in an NCAA Tournament women’s regional semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn.:

The Pack are among the hottest basketball teams in the country.

They’ve won 12 straight games, 10 of them by double digits, since their 69-66 loss at none other than Notre Dame on Feb. 1.

Their only other defeats all season are 66-57 in their opener against then and now-No. 1 South Carolina and 82-80 in overtime against then-No. 14 Georgia on Dec. 16.

NC State ranks No. 1 in the nation among 356 Division I teams in wins, No. 2 in percentage, No. 2 in points per possession (1.11), third in margin per possession (.294), third in margin per game (20.0), seventh in effective field goal percentage (52.8) and ninth in rebounding percentage (56.3).

The Pack are in their ninth season under three-time ACC Coach of the Year and 2021 national coach of the year Wes Moore. He’s compiled a 221-66 record at the school, including 109-16 over the last four years.

They've done it before:How Notre Dame can beat top-seed, No. 3-ranked N.C. State.

Emotional win:Women's basketball: Notre Dame gets 'emotional' in stunning win over N.C. State

Highly balanced NC State is led by 2022 ACC Player of the Year runner-up and 2021 first-team All-American Elissa Cunane.

Mar 6, 2022; Greensboro, NC, USA; NC State Wolfpack center Elissa Cunane (33) makes a move in the post against Miami Hurricanes forward Lola Pendande (21) in the third quarter at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-5 senior is averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds to go with a 54.8 FG%.

Other leaders include 5-5 sophomore point guard Diamond Johnson (11.1 ppg, 55-of-153 on 3s for 39.8%), junior wing Jakia Brown-Turner (9.5 ppg), 5-4 grad student guard Raina Perez (8.9 ppg, 2.9 assists, 47-of-118 on 3s for 39.8%) and 6-1 grad forward Kayla Jones (8.7 ppg).

Jada Boyd, Kai Crutchfield and Camille Hobby have teamed for another 19 points per game.

The oft-traveled, oft-clutch Perez is in her fifth full active college season across six years and three stops. She began her career in 2016-17 at Northern Arizona, sat out the next season under transfer rules in place at the time, logged two seasons at Cal State Fullerton, winning Big West Player of the Year in 2020, and is in her second season with the Pack.

► NC State has a rich history of reaching the Sweet 16, and a history of virtual futility upon arriving.

This is the Pack’s fourth straight Sweet 16 trip and 15th in the last 40 years, but they’ve advanced further than that only once, reaching the Final Four in 1998 before falling 84-65 to runner-up Louisiana Tech.

They’re 1-13 in Sweet 16 games all-time — the win being 55-54 over Old Dominion in ‘98 — with five straight losses.

The most recent defeat was last year’s 73-70 decision against Indiana.