RALEIGH — N.C. State passed its first real test since Wes Moore took over the women’s basketball program with a flourish Sunday.
For the first time this season, the Wolfpack hosted an opponent that had a reasonable chance to win at Reynolds Coliseum.
But Kody Burke had 24 points to lead three Wolfpack players in double figures, and N.C. State led comfortably the entire second half in holding off Tulane 69-55.
N.C. State improved to 5-0 with the win in the teams’ first meeting, while Tulane – which won 24 games and played in the WNIT last season – fell to 4-1.
“Tulane’s half-court trap gave us some trouble when we were wanting to be patient,” first-year N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “But defensively we did a pretty good job on the post players. The fouls are still haunting us, especially when a team hits 18 of 21 free throws.
“It wasn’t real pretty, but hopefully we can learn from it and move on.”
Burke was 7 for 14 from the floor, 7 for 8 from the line, hit a career-high 3 for 5 from outside the 3-point line and grabbed nine rebounds.
“I’m a little more comfortable with the 3-pointer for sure,” Burke said. “It’s just a matter of me getting shots up before and after practice. I work on it a lot more, now that I’m playing outside so much.
“Tulane as concentrating on the inside, and when Keisha (Gatling) was in there they were putting two big players on her and that allowed the open shot more. We’re feeling good now and just want to keep it rolling.”
Center Markeisha Gatling had 14 points and eight rebounds despite playing 17 minutes because of foul trouble, while Myisha Goodwin-Coleman added 10.
Senior Lakeesa Daniel hit her first career 3-pointer, meaning everyone on the roster except Gatling has hit one during her career.
“I was a little concerned with my fourth foul (at 14:40, with the Wolfpack up 42-27),” Gatling said. “After I went back in I didn’t change much. I just had to keep my hands low.
“I think our chemistry is good now. It’s not there yet, but with each game we’re getting better.”
Freshman Leslie Vorpahl had 22 points to lead the Green Wave while Danielle Blagg, who had not played all season because of a concussion, came off the bench for 10.
“We really felt like rebounding was going to be key,” said Tulane coach Lisa Stockton, a Wake Forest alumna who is in her 20th season with the program. “N.C. State does a tremendous job on the boards and getting extra shots. We didn’t want to give them fast-break points and easy baskets.
“We did a pretty good job at that, but not (with our rebounding.) We probably weren’t patient enough on offense. And Burke just killed us. We just couldn’t contain her. Containing her on the block is hard to do, but then she steps up and hits those outside shots.”
N.C. State shot 40.3 percent for the game to Tulane’s 35.6, won the rebound battle 39-33 and committed 12 turnovers to Tulane’s 18.
N.C. State led 31-23 at halftime behind 13 points from Burke. Vorpahl had 12 at the break for Tulane.
The Wolfpack’s next game is at Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Davidson, concluding a six-game homestand before the team heads to Estero, Fla., for the Gulf Coast Showcase at Florida Gulf Coast University beginning Friday.