RALEIGH, N.C. — Akela Maize needed help leaving the court early in the third quarter after she twisted her ankle. Florida State needed help when she returned.
Maize scored eight of her 18 points in the final five minutes as North Carolina State beat the No. 10 Seminoles 65-56 on Thursday night.
Kiara Leslie added 16 points for the Wolfpack (18-5, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their sixth consecutive game.
“This was a big win tonight,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “Our RPI is good and all of that stuff, but we needed a signature win. We’ve just got to keep building.”
Maize was assisted off the court after turning her right ankle with 8:37 left in the third quarter, but she returned late in the period.
She scored in the lane to break a 47-47 tie with 4:14 to play in the game, and the Wolfpack led the rest of the way.
Maize added another basket and four consecutive free throws to help N.C. State build a 58-50 lead with 1:53 remaining.
“We needed her down there on defense and on offense with her size,” N.C. State guard Kaila Ealey said. “I think it was really effective to have her back. I was glad to have her back.”
Ealey scored 14 points and Chelsea Nelson had 11 for the Wolfpack.
Imani Wright scored 13 points to lead Florida State (18-4, 6-3), which lost for the second game in a row.
Nausia Woolfolk and Shakayla Thomas added 10 points each for the Seminoles.
Florida State: The Seminoles haven’t been the same since they knocked off undefeated Louisville on Jan. 21. Florida State was routed at home by Notre Dame 100-69 on Sunday and has failed to make more than one-third of its shots in back-to-back games.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack stayed red hot and showed that they are worthy of a spot in the Top 25. N.C. State stifled the ACC’s highest scoring team, holding the Seminoles to 33-percent shooting from the floor. “They played phenomenal defense and took us out of our rhythm offensively,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. “We knew they were going to be rough and physical, and they were.”
Wright entered the game as Florida State’s leading scorer at 18.2 points per game, and she had averaged 22 points in her previous eight games. But she made just 5 of 17 shots against the Wolfpack, scoring two points in the second and third quarters combined.
Florida State’s reserves outscored N.C. State’s reserves 10-0. . The Wolfpack made 20 of 25 free throws, including 10 of 11 by Ealey. . N.C. State shot 43.5 percent from the field, improving to 10-0 when shooting at least 40 percent. . Thomas was hampered by foul trouble and played just 18 minutes for Florida State.
GAME OF RUNS
N.C. State opened the second half with an 11-0 run keyed by a driving layup and 3-pointer by Leslie. The Wolfpack extended their lead to 41-31 on another 3-pointer by Leslie, but the Seminoles answered with an 11-0 spurt to regain the lead early in the fourth quarter.
SHE SAID IT
“I hope it helps us learn what it takes to win at a high level. I told the team after the game: Did we think we were good enough after beating Louisville? I think that can happen. . It gets in your head a little bit. They’re 18 to 22-year-olds. But we’ll mature. We’ll change.” — Semrau on her team’s recent play
Florida State looks to get back on track at Pittsburgh on Sunday, capping a stretch of four road trips in five games.
N.C. State hosts Boston College on Sunday, continuing a stretch in which it will play at home four times in five games.