N.C. State sophomore Maverick Rowan has a thing for playing well against Pittsburgh.
At Pitt last season, he scored 14 points and was 4 of 6 from the 3-point line. And this past Tuesday at home, he was even better.
The 6-7, 220-pound forward/guard dropped 21 points, including six 3-pointers, in the Wolfpack’s 79-74 win against the Panthers (12-7, 1-5 ACC). Both the points and the threes were a season-high. It was a close game throughout the second half, and whenever the Wolfpack needed a 3, Rowan was there to hit it.
“I wish we could play Pitt every night for Mav, the way he’s played against them,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said.
Rowan won’t say what motivates him against the Panthers. He played most of his high school basketball in Pennsylvania, and originally committed to Pitt before deciding to go to N.C. State.
“It’s always fun,” Rowan said of playing against Pittsburgh. “They have a bunch of great guys... I’ve got a lot of love for the university and the city, but I’m happy to beat them, though.”
With 13:26 left in Tuesday’s game, and the Wolfpack (13-6, 2-4) down 56-55, Rowan pulled up from well beyond the arc and shot the ball.
As the ball traveled towards the rim, sophomore guard Chris Corchiani Jr. stood up from the bench and watched it go in. Rowan then pretended to shoot a bow and arrow at Corchiani, who grabbed his heart and fell back into junior guard Cameron Gottfried’s arms.
“I told little Chris Corchiani that I was going to do it after my fourth, but I forgot so after the fifth one I made, I did it,” Rowan said. “And he was on point with catching the arrow in his heart.”
Tuesday night’s game was the third straight start for Rowan since he returned from a concussion he suffered in the season-opener against Georgia Southern on Nov. 11. When Rowan came back on Dec. 10, he did not immediately return to the starting lineup. But he started a month later in N.C. State’s Jan. 11 game against Boston College.
Rowan played well in his team’s 86-76 loss to Georgia Tech on Sunday, scoring 17 points and hitting 3 of 7 3-pointers in 34 minutes. He then had his best game of the season Tuesday night.
“As a team, it’s the right option right now and I’m happy to be back,” Rowan said of starting. “I was out three weeks and I had to fight my way back in the lineup and I’ve been playing well, our team has been playing well, but we haven’t been winning all the games. But now I think as a team, moving forward, we can start winning again.”
Freshman forward Omer Yurtseven agreed. When asked what he thought of Rowan’s play as of late, Yurtseven said he was happy Rowan got his confidence back. He said the wing can hit any shot he takes.
“He’s a sharp shooter,” Yurtseven said. “He really is, no doubt about that to be honest.”
Coach Gottfried said he thinks Rowan has a chance to be a great player, who can make shots and open the game up for the Wolfpack at any time.
“And I think defensively he’s gotten better,” Gottfried said Tuesday. “You know last year at times I thought he really struggled. I think this year he’s done a much better job and he’s figured things out.”
“So he’s an important part of our team, and tonight he stepped up and got it done for us.”