The Wolfpacker

March-April 2020 issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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MARCH 2020 ■ 21 She finished the year with averages of 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and was a four-time ACC Freshman of the Week and a member of the league's All-Freshman squad. This year, she's started each of the first 27 games and is a primary reason the Wolfpack rose to as high as No. 4 in the nation. Cunane has posted 13 double-doubles while being the only ACC player to average double digits in points (16.9) and rebounds (10.1). She took a few shots to the midsection in back-to-back losses to No. 9 Louisville and unranked Georgia Tech in mid-February, but the Pack still stood No. 8 in the country with a 23-4 overall record and were two games out of first place in the ACC with a 12-4 league mark as of Feb. 24. In some ways, though, those games were the ultimate compliment to Cunane. Both opponents made it their mission to stop the Wolfpack's inside game, to slow down the sophomore who had twice been named ACC Player of the Week, first in mid- December after posting a career high with 28 points to go along with 16 rebounds against Elon (she pulled down a career-best 19 boards two weeks earlier in a win over North Texas) and again in early January when she netted 54 Commonwealth points: 28 against Virginia Tech and 26 against Virginia. There's still room for improvement, Wolf- pack head coach Wes Moore said. Cunane is dangerous from the perimeter, but she can be a bigger threat inside if he goes stronger towards the basket. There's time to learn, and Cunane has always been an excellent student of the game. "That's just something that comes from my whole life," she said. "I love everything about basketball. And part of that is getting up early. Part of that is getting beat up. Part of that is dying when you're running in the summer. "So I think even in the toughest times, I still love the game." It's Cunane's unbridled joy and enthusi- asm that shows most, however. ESPN analyst, former Wolfpack player and NC State gradu- ate Debbie Antonelli started calling her Big Smile, a name that fits Cunane as snugly as a knee brace. On the day Antonelli started using that in Reynolds Coliseum, a man rolled up to her in a wheelchair and said: "Thank you for all the nice things you say about my daughter." The Family Story On her big brother's fifth birthday, Cunane and her family experienced a significant life change, one she doesn't remember but one

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