RALEIGH — N.C. State didnt put up much of a challenge to visiting Michigan State on Thursday night.
Klarissa Bell led the way with 21 points as the Spartans built a big first-half lead, saw it almost evaporate, and then finished with another big run to rout the Wolfpack 68-51 in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup at Reynolds Coliseum.
The 17-point margin was the Wolfpacks worst home-court defeat in Kellie Harpers four seasons as coach.
Im disappointed in the way that game went, but to be quite honest with you we just got beat tonight, and we got beat by a better basketball team, said Harper, whose 5-3 team has dropped three of its past four games. They outplayed us in just about every aspect of the game. Give them a lot of credit.
We wont make excuses. Weve got to correct some things, but we just got outplayed. (Michigan State) boxes out as well as any team Ive seen since Ive been at N.C. State.
Jasmine Thomas had 16 points and Annalise Pickrel 14, each in 40 minutes for the 6-0 Spartans.
With about six scholarship players and a seventh (Branndais Agee) who has a pin in her foot, Im pretty proud of our group because of the physical play, MSU coach Suzy Merchant said. N.C. State is so well-coached, and they play so hard and theyre so deep. I was proud of the way our kids handled themselves.
Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and Markeisha Gatling had 10 points each to lead the Wolfpack. We werent hitting shots while they were, Goodwin-Coleman said. We were taking tough shots and not making them at all.
MSU shot 43.6 percent to the Wolfpacks 34.5, won the rebound battle 38-34 and committed 11 turnovers to NCSUs 12.
The Spartans led 39-32 at halftime. This was something of a miracle for the Wolfpack, which had trailed 23-5 following a Pickrel layup at 12:03.
Gatling scored NCSUs last six points of the first half, including a pair of free throws with 0.8 left.
They were very strong in the post, Gatling said. Thats the toughest front line weve faced so far.
The Wolfpack pulled within a point at 39-38 on Kody Burkes layup from Goodwin-Coleman with 18:06 remaining. But the Spartans responded with 10 straight, ending with Thomas layup at 15:00.
Thursdays defeat margin matched a 74-57 loss to UNC under interim coach Stephanie Glance on Feb. 23, 2009, the worst since a 90-57 loss to Duke on March 1, 2004. The Wolfpacks worst non-conference home loss ever was a 98-75 defeat to Connecticut on Dec. 10, 1994.
The Wolfpacks next game is at Louisiana State on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Our backs are against the wall now, Goodwin-Coleman said. When we go down to LSU Sunday are we going to throw the first punch or are we going to take the first punch? Are we going to set the tempo? Weve got to fix this.