Wood's 3 gives NC State a 58-57 win over Clemson

jjones@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 10, 2013 

— As Scott Wood hoisted up what would be the game-winning 3-pointer Sunday against Clemson, the ball slightly slipped out of the North Carolina State forward’s grip.

He adjusted, and as the ball left he thought it had a chance of going in, but the sharpshooter had to see the ball all the way to the basket.

The shot was the difference between stopping or adding to a five-game ACC road losing streak, or the preseason conference favorites going below .500 in the ACC after 11 games.

Wood knocked down his third 3-pointer of the afternoon, his only points of the game, with one second left on the clock and the Wolfpack (17-7, 6-5 ACC) escaped Littlejohn Coliseum with a 58-57 victory against the Tigers.

“Sometimes you just need a win,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “I’ve always said sometimes it’s nothing that a few wins can’t cure. Winning has a way of doing that. So this is big for our team right now. We obviously have to finish strong the rest of February and March, but this is big for our team.”

The Wolfpack trailed for most of Sunday afternoon’s contest, having the lead for just four minutes and 40 seconds all day before Wood’s bucket in the waning seconds.

Clemson (12-11, 4-7) had a four-point lead with 19 seconds after guard Rod Hall hit a tough leaning layup to put up the home team 57-53. Milton Jennings fouled Lorenzo Brown, back on the court for the first time since injuring his left ankle against Virginia on Jan. 29, and the guard hit both of his free throws.

State fouled Jennings on the ensuing in-bounds, and Jennings clanged the front-end of the 1-and-1 off the rim. C.J. Leslie collected the rebound and hustled down court against a reeling Clemson defense, but Gottfried decided to call timeout with 7.5 seconds remaining rather than let Leslie attempt to tie the game.

“Although at times he’s good there, it was important that we got exactly what we wanted,” said Gottfried, who alluded to Leslie’s travel in the post just two possessions earlier. “There are times I’ve let my team play before if I feel like we’re in a good place and the ball’s in the right guys hand and guys seem to be in the break running and there’s a good feel for where we are and running then certainly. But I didn’t feel comfortable there and I thought it was important for us to get organized.”

Gottfried drew up a play for Brown, who finished with 15 points and four assists in 32 minutes off the bench, to penetrate and draw defenders while Wood worked baseline screens by Leslie and Richard Howell. Brown dished to Wood in the corner, whose 3-pointer finished the Tigers.

“’Zo did a good job of getting me a good pass… and it was real good to have him back,” Wood said. “He’s great player and a great leader and even when he’s not out there that leadership key is big for us. In my opinion he’s one of the best players in the nation and that showed again today.”

Clemson had played one of its best games of late against the Wolfpack, especially after suffering an embarrassing 78-41 loss at Virginia three days earlier. In the first half, Clemson turned nine State turnovers into 11 points and led by as many as 12 points before taking a 32-26 lead into halftime.

K.J. McDaniels posted seven points and five rebounds in the first half while Clemson’s Jordan Roper made the second half his own. The freshman guard scored Clemson’s first 10 points in the second half, but the Wolfpack kept the contest close with more accurate shooting and six fewer turnovers in the second half.

Brown, who said his ankle was at 85 percent before the game, had six points and all four assists come in the second half. He was in pain, but his team was finally back in the win column for the first time in two weeks.

“It’s throbbing right now,” Brown said of his ankle. “It hurts, but I’m just happy we won.”

See the box score from the game

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