N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried was more impressed by Creighton than he was worried about his own team’s defense after Sunday’s loss in a high-scoring game in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The shorthanded Wolfpack (3-1) lost 112-94 to the No. 22 Bluejays in a track meet and will face St. Joseph’s (3-1) on Monday night (6 p.m.) in the consolation round of the tournament.
Seven different Creighton players scored in double-figures to offset a career-high 28 points from Wolfpack senior guard Terry Henderson.
“They’re a well-oiled machine,” Gottfried said in a phone interview. “They’re as gifted offensively as just about anybody we’ll face this year. We got beat by a really good team.”
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And while Creighton is a veteran team, clicking on all cylinders early — it also scored 103 points on Washington State in the first game of the tournament — N.C. State is a young group playing in only its fourth game.
“We’re still learning how to play,” Gottfried said. “I like how we were scoring the ball, we just gave up too many points.”
It was the most points N.C. State had scored in a loss since a 104-100 decision at Maryland during the 1990-91 season.
It was the second-most points any N.C. State team has allowed and most since a 124-110 loss to Maryland during the 1978-79 season.
Henderson made seven 3-pointers and equaled his career high to pace N.C. State, which played without wing Maverick Rowan (concussion) and forward Ted Kapita, who missed the tournament with a student visa issue.
Foul trouble caught up to N.C. State in the second half, so did the Bluejays ability to exploit the lane with pick-and-roll sets.
“We have to do a better job communicating on defense,” Henderson said in a phone interview. “We have a lot of things to work on.”
With forwards BeeJay Anya and Abdul-Malik Abu in foul trouble, N.C. State couldn’t protect the rim. The Bluejays had a 52-26 advantage in points in the paint.
They also kept pace with N.C. State’s hot shooting from 3 with a 13-of-27 effort of their own.
The Wolfpack went into the game having only made 9 of 45 from the 3-point line in its first three games. It finished 14 of 28 on Sunday.
“I knew I needed to shoot the ball better,” said Henderson, who was 4 of 19 before going 7 of 11 against Creighton.
Gottfried said the loss has the potential to be “a great lesson” for his team.
“Whether you win or lose, you can’t let one game affect the next,” Gottfried said. “We have to be able to put this behind us and focus on (St. Joe’s).”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio