WINSTON-SALEM — After a miserable loss in the previous game, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried wanted to see his team respond with heart and some fight.
The Wolfpack did respond on Wednesday at Wake Forest but it was not quite enough. Codi Miller-McIntyre scored the game-winning basket with 4.9 seconds left to lift the Demon Deacons to a 70-69 home win.
The Wolfpack (11-6, 1-3 ACC) got a bounce-back effort from sophomore forward T.J. Warren (22 points) and took a late lead with a pair of free throws by junior guard Desmond Lee, but it couldnt finish off the Deacs (12-5, 2-2), who have won 12 straight at home.
I thought our guys played with a lot of courage, Gottfried said. They competed, and we put ourselves in a position to win. We just needed to make one more defensive play.
Lee made both of his free throws with 10.5 seconds left to give the Wolfpack a 69-68 lead. Miller-McIntyre, who finished with 20 points, passed the ball in to forward Devin Thomas and then got the ball back near N.C. States free-throw line.
Miller-McIntyre then dribbled all the way into the basket, stepped around Ralston Turner and got the shot over the outstretched arm over Kyle Washington.
Turner fouled Miller-McIntyre on the play, which Gottfried said he thought might have been called a travel, but he missed the free throw. The Pack had the ball with 4.9 seconds, but Cat Barbers last-second heave, from about 35 feet, never had a chance.
The loss was progress from last Saturdays 76-45 home disaster against Virginia. Turner, who finished with 11 points, was pleased with the fight the Packs inexperienced team showed on Wednesday night.
We got beat down pretty bad by Virginia, Turner said. We have to keep our head up and keep fighting.
After scoring a season-low four points against Virginia, Warren came back with 14 of his 22 in the first half as the Pack built a 43-35 lead.
Wake Forest made seven of its first eight shots and its first four 3-pointers to jump out to 20-11 lead at the 13:45 mark. The Demon Deacons couldnt keep up the scoring pace. Turnovers hurt Wake, and so did Warren.
The Pack used a 16-4 run to take control of the game. Senior forward Jordan Vandenberg was able to finish at the rim and Turner, who hit a pair of 3-pointers, was on from outside.
States biggest lead in the first half came after Warren scored on the break to give the Pack a 41-32 advantage with 1:31 left in the half.
But State came undone in the second half by Wakes zone and foul trouble. By the time the Deacs squared the game at 56 by the 10-minute mark of the second half, Warren, Vandenberg and Washington each had four fouls.
Forwards Devin Thomas (16 points, six rebounds) and Arnaud Adala Moto (15 points, 11 rebounds) were able to take advantage of the weakened Wolfpack inside.
The Deacs real advantage came at the free-throw line. Wake finished 28 of 39 from the line, while N.C. State was 21 of 31. Moto, who entered the game shooting 53.8 from the line, finished 11 of 14.
After scoring 43 points in the first half, N.C. State had just 26 in the second half and made just 7 of 24 shots. Gottfried said he liked the shots his team got against Wakes zone, they just didnt fall.
After the Virginia loss, Gottfried described his young teams effort as pitiful. He was much more encouraged by Wednesdays showing, even if it was in a loss.
Im proud of my team, Gottfried said. Disappointed we lost but Im proud of our effort.
Turner said the improved effort and fight will eventually yield higher returns in the win column.
Were taking our scars and learning, Turner said. Hopefully we can get right soon.