N.C. State earned its practice jerseys back after a hard-fought effort at Florida State on Monday, just not its second straight ACC win.
Cat Barber scored 31 points but Florida State was too deep and too physical for a short-handed N.C. State team playing for the second time in three days.
Freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley scored enough to hold off a second-half Wolfpack charge led by Barber in a 77-73 FSU home win.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team and their effort,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “We’re just a play or two short, and it’s disappointing. They couldn’t have played any harder.”
Gottfried took away his players’ practice gear after a home loss to Georgia Tech last Wednesday. The plain white T-shirts remained even after an 85-69 win over a ranked Miami team on Saturday.
The fight and determination, after falling behind by 16 points in the first half on Monday, earned back their gear and Gottfried’s praise.
“In the second half, I was really proud of how we adjusted,” Gottfried said. “In the first half, we were all hurried and out of sync, and I thought in the second half we were terrific.”
The Wolfpack (12-11, 2-8 ACC) shot 58.6 percent in the second half (17 of 29) and cut a double-digit lead down to two, 75-73, after a pair of free throws by Barber with 46 seconds left.
The Seminoles (15-7, 5-5) had the answer, though, with a short jumper by Bacon that just beat the shot clock with 15 seconds left in the game.
The Noles got 20 points from Bacon and 15 from Beasley in sweeping the regular-season series with the Wolfpack. FSU used an aggressive defense and a deep rotation to wear out the Wolfpack.
They tried to push us around a little bit. They tried to deny me, but we fought and we came back, so I’m proud of my team.
Cat Barber, N.C. State guard
“They tried to push us around a little bit,” Barber said. “They tried to deny me, but we fought and we came back, so I’m proud of my team.”
The Seminoles used runs of 14-2 and 12-4 in the first half to take control of the game. Bacon’s 3-pointer from the right corner made it 36-20 with 3:28 left in the first half.
The Wolfpack could never get its offense into a rhythm in the first half. N.C. State had two shot-clock violations and shot two air balls near the end of the shot clock in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the game.
But N.C. State was able to crack FSU’s full-court pressure and turn the Seminoles’ double-teaming of Barber against them in the second half.
Caleb Martin had 12 of his 14 points in the second half. His 3-pointer at 9:08 cut FSU’s lead, which was 12 points at the half, down to 63-61.
“We just made good adjustments and figured out what they were doing on defense,” Martin said.
The deeper Noles, who had nine different players score and 10 play in the game, quickly answered with a 10-2 surge.
Then Barber buried three straight jumpers, two from the 3-point line, and it was 73-71 with 2:58 to play.
Bacon scored FSU’s last six points and eight of the last 10 to hold off Barber’s surge. Barber made 7 of 11 shots in the second half and never seemed to tire despite playing all 40 minutes and the physical nature of the game.
“That’s just him being Cat,” Martin said. “He had two people on him, and he still got 31.”
It was almost enough to carry N.C. State to another ACC win. The Wolfpack will have to settle for their coach’s approval instead.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio