RALEIGH — Richard Howell was just waiting for opportunity like the one he received with 13 minutes left in the second half against Maryland on Sunday.
Like the rest of his teammates, Howell, a junior forward, had yet to beat the Terrapins. After a missed 3-point attempt from Scott Wood, Howell grabbed the rebound between two defenders. Then, with all the emotion he could muster, Howell ignited the near-sellout crowd at the RBC Center with a two-handed dunk that also featured him screaming in celebration.
The play not only gave N.C. State momentum in its 79-74 win, but it also was one that demonstrated a level of toughness the Wolfpack showed against the Terrapins.
"It's nice to see our work pay off when people haven't seen what we're doing," Howell said. "We're still facing critics saying that we're not ready."
Howell scored eight of his 10 points in the second half to give the Wolfpack its first victory over Maryland after nine consecutive losses.
Although he didn't have his best game of the season, first-year coach Mark Gottfried noticed how Howell showed his mental toughness.
"Richard didn't rebound as well as he usually does and he missed a couple of shots early, but he didn't get down," Gottfried said. "We didn't drop our heads like we have at certain times in close games."
Len impresses Gottfried: While Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin kept the Terrapins close in the second half with a game-high 25 points, Gottfried was just as impressed with center Alex Len.
Len, a 7-foot-1 freshman, finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. Because of a 10-game suspension by the NCAA, Sunday was only Len's fourth game.
"I love him," Gottfried said. "He's going to be a great player. To get a guy like that in a midst of a coaching change is a heck of a get for Maryland. He has a chance to become a great player."
Vandenberg's sidelined: Forward Jordan Vandenberg won't play the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury. Vandenberg, a junior, plans on applying for a medical redshirt at the end of the season, according to a team spokesman.
Vandenberg has played only a combined 11 minutes in two games since Nov. 21 and hasn't played since the Syracuse game Dec. 17. The 7-footer from Australia wore street clothes on the bench for Sunday's game, the first time he has been out of uniform this season.
Gottfried already has shortened his bench rotation to seven players, with guard Alex Johnson and forward DeShawn Painter getting significant minutes. Freshman forward Thomas de Thaey played three minutes against Maryland.
Staff Writer J.P. Giglio contributed to this report.