NC State's Wolfpack upbeat, see progress after loss to Deacons

jgiglio@newsobserver.comJanuary 16, 2014 

Jordan Vandenberg was philosophical about N.C. State’s last-minute loss at Wake Forest late on Wednesday night.

The senior forward put the Wolfpack’s 70-69 defeat in perspective, which came three days after a completely disastrous home loss to Virginia.

“It would have been nice if we won, but as long as we’re trending upwards,” the fifth-year senior said. “It’s better than losing by 30.”

While Virginia pasted N.C. State 76-45 last Saturday, Wake nipped the Wolfpack at the finish line on Wednesday.

Guard Codi Miller-McIntyre streaked down the court and scored the winning basket with 4.9 seconds left. The video replay of Miller-McIntyre’s game-winner shows he took an extra step on the way to the basket.

The travel was not called, but N.C. State junior guard Ralston Turner was called for a foul, which was the 52nd of the game (26 for each team).

Miller-McIntyre, who finished with a team-best 20 points, missed the free throw, but it was one of the few key shots the Deacons missed down the stretch, especially from the line.

Wake made 28 of 39 free throws, compared to 21 of 31 for N.C. State. The Deacons rank 328th in the NCAA (out of 351 teams) in free-throw percentage and are still shooting just 63.2 percent after Wednesday’s surge.

Sophomore forward Arnaud Adala Moto went 11 of 14 from the line against the Wolfpack. Going into the game, he had made 21 of 39 (53.8 percent) of his free throws on the season.

In a similar pattern to last season’s game in Winston-Salem, also a close Wake win, N.C. State had a sizable first-half lead – 41-32 at one point – but foul trouble cost the Wolfpack in the second half.

Forwards T.J. Warren, Jordan Vandenberg and Kyle Washington each had four fouls by the time Wake had tied the score at 56 midway through the second half.

Warren, who had 22 points after only scoring four against Virginia, fouled out with 2:47 left in the game.

With Warren on the bench for long stretches, and Vandenberg quiet after a dominant first half, the Wolfpack couldn’t solve Wake’s zone defense.

N.C. State scored 43 points in the first half but only 26 in the second half. The Wolfpack had a distinct inside advantage early in the game, with eight points and seven rebounds from Vandenberg, but failed to replicate the effort in the second half.

“It hurt us that me and T.J. were on the bench, but we should have played to the referees,” Vandenberg said. “We can’t complain about that, that was on us.”

Even with its foul problems, shooting woes (7 of 24 in the second half) and the absence of guard Tyler Lewis, who missed the second half with flu-like symptoms, N.C. State still took the lead in the final minute.

After falling behind at the 9:12 mark of the second half, the Wolfpack trailed until junior guard Desmond Lee made two free throws with 10.5 seconds left.

Up 69-68, Wolfpack guard Cat Barber lost Miller-McIntyre on the inbounds play, which ended with Miller-McIntyre hitting a runner over Turner and Washington.

With 4.9 seconds left and the Wolfpack out of timeouts, Washington grabbed the rebound of Miller-McIntyre’s miss free throw but couldn’t find Barber right away to get the ball up the court.

Barber ended up with a rushed, contested 35-foot heave, which didn’t hit the backboard.

The Wolfpack walked off the court with a 1-3 ACC record but an appreciation for how much better it played than in the Virginia loss.

“It’s still early and they all count as one,” Turner said. “It wouldn’t have made our season and I don’t think it broke our season.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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