When the easy shots weren’t working, N.C. State decided to go for the 3s.
The Wolfpack started the game 0-for-8 from the field and gave up six turnovers in the first five minutes. But N.C. State quickly found its groove in a 82-66 win over Boston College on Tuesday night at PNC Arena.
N.C. State (19-9, 9-6) needed some time to get going, but a couple of spurts got the job done. After trailing 6-0, the Wolfpack went on a 13-2 run and never looked back. State finished the first half hitting 17 of 19 shots, including 11 shots in a row. The team ended the half scoring nine straight 3s.
“The first five minutes of the game I was going to get up and leave because we didn’t make shots,” said Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts. “But I was OK with it because they (Boston College) only had six points. Finally, we got going and it was weird because we didn’t score the first five minutes of the half and ended the first half with 44 points.”
The Wolfpack didn’t score its first point until the 13:38 mark - a free throw from senior forward Abdul-Malik Abu - and the first field goal came exactly one minute later on a layup from Torin Dorn. Braxton Beverly’s first three tied the game at six and Allerik Freeman followed with a triple of his own to give the Pack their first lead.
“We just needed to get over that hump and score,” Abu said. “Once we got scoring we were able to get into the flow of things, once we got in the flow we got going.”
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, but we had faith in our scoring,” said N.C. State guard Sam Hunt. “Our coach always says have faith and we’ll be fine as long as we defend, so that’s what we did.”
Boston College played most of the first half without leading scorer Jerome Robinson, who played locally at Broughton High School. Robinson took a hard fall when Omer Yurtseven blocked his layup attempt and Robinson landed on his left elbow.
Robinson remained on the floor for several minutes and was helped to the bench by the Eagles’ medical staff. After a few moments on the bench, he was taken to the locker room.
Robinson came into the game averaging almost 26 points in ACC play and the Eagles missed him dearly. When Robinson left the game, Boston College trailed 16-8. When he returned at the 3:02 mark, the Pack led by 17.
With Boston College’s star off the court, Beverly decided to shine, hitting all five of his three-point attempts in the first half, finishing with 15 points by the break, with the Wolfpack holding a 44-28 lead.
Hunt also had the hot hand early, hitting all three of his three-point attempts in the first half. The Wolfpack hit 9 of 12 three pointers in the first half, shooting better from three (75 percent) than from the field (63 percent) in the opening 20 minutes.
State started the second half hitting six of its first eight shots, appearing to keep the hot hand going, but the Eagles made a game out of it, pulling to within 10 with 11:45 remaining.
Then Hunt, the graduate transfer from North Carolina A&T, hit another triple, putting the Wolfpack up 63-48 and giving N.C. State the momentum.
The win was the third in a row for N.C. State, which is trying to avoid playing any Tuesday games at the ACC Tournament. Currently, N.C. State sits in sixth place in the league standings.
The Wolfpack have three games remaining on the schedule, including two at home, beginning with Florida State on Sunday. Of those final three games, only one team - Louisville - is ahead of the Wolfpack in the standings. The Seminoles are one spot behind N.C. State. The Wolfpack travel to Georgia Tech - 13th in the league - on March 1.
N.C. State avenged a 74-66 road loss to Boston College a year ago. The Eagles (16-12, 6-9) have not dropped two in a row.
The Wolfpack finished 52 percent from three (11-21) and were led by grad transfer Freeman, who finished with 20, and has averaged close to 20 points the last three games. Beverly finished with 16, Hunt with 12 and Dorn with 12.
“I thought we made the right reads,” Keatts said as N.C. State had 19 assists on 29 made field goals. “We found a way to win when I didn’t think we were sharp today. We were a little rusty for a little reason.”
Havelock native Ky Bowman led the Eagles with 21, but couldn’t carry the load without his backcourt mate Robinson, who finished with 8 after returning from the injury. Jordan Chatman tried to make up for Robinson’s scoring production with 17 points.