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How NC State used the Wake Forest loss to beat Notre Dame

Some games stay with you, like a gas-station hot dog.

There isn’t enough antacid for the cure, only time and another game.

Notre Dame proved to be the remedy for N.C. State on Saturday. The Wolfpack got a season-high 23 points from C.J. Bryce in a 77-73 road win over the Fighting Irish.

After Tuesday’s loss at Wake Forest, No. 17 N.C. State was eager for a shot at redemption.

“We had a bad taste in our mouth from that last game,” Bryce said in a phone interview after the game. “We did all week in practice. We just wanted to get back out and get a win.”

Thanks to Bryce’s 3-point stroke, and multiple contributions from others to make up for the absence of injured guard Markell Johnson, N.C. State (15-3, 3-2 ACC) did just that.

Bryce made all five of his 3-point shots and finished 9 of 14 from the floor and five rebounds and three assists.

He was often able to initiate the offense with Johnson, the regular point guard, sidelined for the second straight game with a sore back.

“Markell’s such a big part of our team,” Bryce said. “We knew we had to pick up the slack for him.”

Sophomore guard Devon Daniels helped with 15 points and six rebounds. He had a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to put the Fighting Irish (11-7, 1-4) away.

Sophomore forward D.J. Funderburk was key, too, with 11 points and six rebounds and senior Torin Dorn contributed 13 points and nine rebounds.

“It was so many guys,” said second-year coach Kevin Keatts, who has won six of the past nine ACC road games. “I challenged all of them because when a guy like Markell is down, somebody else has to step up.”

A big help for N.C. State was avoiding an early hole and a second-half deficit, which it had faced in its first four ACC games. It erased a 22-point Wake Forest lead on Tuesday but wasn’t able to complete the comeback.

That loss was notable for the lack of energy in the first half. That wasn’t the case on Saturday. Keatts made sure there was juice in the Wolfpack lineup from the jump.

Keatts said he went out on the court with the players in warmups and had a suggestion.

“Whatever you’ve been doing, do something different,” Keatts said.

That seemed to work, as did the motivation from the Wake loss. The Wolfpack took the lead on Bryce’s first 3-pointer at 13:24 in the first half and never trailed again.

Not that it was easy. Notre Dame got 19 points from freshman Dane Goodwin and 19 points and 16 rebounds from junior forward John Mooney.

It was Mooney’s dunk at 8:26 in the second half that cut N.C. State’s lead to 62-61. The teams traded empty possessions and then Daniels made a jumper at 5:54. A 3-pointer by Bryce at 4:49 provided some extra breathing room at 67-61.

The Irish never got that close again. N.C. State was able to put the game away. After it failed to execute in the final moments of the second half at Wake Forest, that was a welcome change.

“We had a tough loss at Wake Forest but as a team we’re learning,” Bryce said. “I thought we did the right things down the stretch this time.”

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