Brooks’ triple-double helps No. 3 NC State women top Liberty 80-67

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Freshman guard Zoe Brooks turned in the second triple-double in school history and the No. 3 North Carolina State women beat Liberty 80-67 on Sunday.

Brooks, filling in for standout Saniya Rivers for her first start, turned in 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

“In college obviously a triple-double is a lot bigger than middle school or high school,” Brooks said. “I was making sure I was getting my teammates the ball without too many turnovers. When I pass the ball to my teammates and see them make the shot, it helps me a lot.”

Aziaha James scored 18 points, Madison Hayes and Mimi Collins each had 15 points and reserve Laci Steele added 10 points as N.C. State moved to 10-0 for the fourth time in 11 seasons under coach Wes Moore.

Brooks shot only 2 for 10 from the floor, but contributed in numerous ways.

“I think she handled that well,” Moore said of the starting role. “Did a great job of running the team.”

Most impressive might have been her team-high rebound total.

“She’s not even supposed to go to the offensive boards and she had six of them,” Moore said.

Asia Boone had 17 points, Emma Hess 15 points and Bella Smuda 14 points and 15 rebounds for Liberty (3-7), which suffered its 41st straight loss to a Top 25 opponent.

Rivers, who averages 13.7 points and a team-high 4.4 assists per game, watched from the bench with an ailment.

Liberty was within reach at 45-42 but the Flames went four possessions without scoring and Brooks’ three-point play pushed the margin to 52-42. That was part of N.C. State’s 15-5 stretch to end the third quarter.

The Flames bounced back, but Hayes scored on a three-point play with 2:14 remaining for a 71-63 edge.

“A five-point game and we have opportunities,” Liberty coach Carey Green said. “But we gave up 80 points, not to take away anything from N.C. State. There were a lot of open shots and they made them.”

N.C. State led 37-31 at halftime after Liberty closed the half on an 11-3 run. Half of the Wolfpack’s 14 field goals were 3-pointers in the half.

A wet court caused by a leaky roof resulted in a 22-minute interruption prior to the start of the fourth quarter at Reynolds Coliseum, which is the Wolfpack’s on-campus facility.

BIG PICTURE

Liberty: The Flames haven’t produced a lot of rewarding results against a stiff schedule, but they showed at times that they could hang with one of the country’s top teams. This was their sixth game against a 2023 NCAA Tournament team so far this season.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack had all sorts of flow and shot-making in the opening quarter even with the altered lineup. But gaps developed on the offensive end as the Wolfpack shot 7 for 26 on 2-point attempts in the first half in the team’s final nonconference home game.

UP NEXT

Liberty: Hosts Radford on Wednesday.

N.C. State: Visits South Florida on Saturday to begin a stretch of three consecutive road games.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball