Mark Gottfried went through N.C. State’s problems against Arizona State on Monday night in the Legends Classic.
There were issues in rebounding, foul trouble and a lack of execution on offense.
It all added up to a 79-76 loss to the Sun Devils and first-year coach Bobby Hurley.
“Our guys have a lot to learn,” Gottfried said.
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Despite those significant problems, which dropped the Wolfpack to 2-2 on the season, N.C. State had a late lead and a chance to force overtime.
Junior point guard Cat Barber got a deep, contested look at 3-pointer at the buzzer but his shot was long.
Arizona State (3-1) was just a little better down the stretch, especially guard Tra Holder (22 points) and forward Savon Goodman (21 points, 16 rebounds).
The Sun Devils used a 47 to 35 advantage on the glass, and a 28 to 13 advantage in second-chance points, to come away with the win.
With the game tied at 73, Goodman scored on a driving basket with 1:25 left in the game. He was fouled on the basket by N.C. State forward Abdul-Malik Abu.
Goodman missed the free throw but forward Obinna Oleka got the rebound, one of 18 offensive rebounds for the Sun Devils. Abu blocked Oleka’s putback attempt but Holder ended up with the ball and drained a 3-pointer for a 78-73 lead.
N.C. State missed a free throw on its next possession and didn’t score again until 6.1 seconds were left on a layup by Barber.
Gerry Blakes made one of two free throws with 4.0 seconds left to leave the door open but Barber couldn’t find the range on the final shot.
N.C. State made too many little mistakes that added up, Gottfried said.
“We’ve just got a number of situations where it’s a key play at a key time,” Gottfried said. “A team has to learn how to make key plays at the right time.”
The sequence at the end of the first half was particularly upsetting to Gottfried. N.C. State took a 37-35 lead on a 3-pointer by Maverick Rowan with 5.9 seconds left.
But Cody Martin and ASU’s Blakes got tangled up under the basket. Blakes had an aggressive box out on Martin and then Martin pulled him down from around the shoulders.
Both teams got to shoot free throws after a long review of the play. Martin went 1 of 2 from the line and Blakes made both of his.
Arizona State got the ball and then got a 3-pointer from Andre Spight, who banked it in before the halftime buzzer.
“That was a big swing,” Gottfried said. “You’ve got to have poise. You just can’t do that. This isn’t the playground, this is college basketball.”
Arizona State, who opened the season with a home loss to Sacramento State, jumped out 14-5 to start the second half. Another 3 by Spight gave them a 54-43 lead at 15:41.
The Wolfpack was slowed by its own struggles on offense, it shot 34.2 percent in the first half and took too many quick shots, Barber said.
“We just weren’t running our offense,” Barber said. “In the second half, when we were running our offense it was better.”
N.C State shot 65 percent in the second half (13 of 20) and led 72-71 with 2:44 to play but was undone on the defensive glass and a lack of agressiveness.
Gottfried traced the rebounding woes to being too tentative with fouls. Just two minutes into the second half, N.C. State had four players with three fouls. For a team with a seven-man rotation, that was costly, Gottfried said.
“Young players start to play tentative and then they’re not effective,” Gottfried said. “They’ve got to learn how to still be effective and be smart how they play.”
After another early season loss, the learning curve for this N.C. State team is starting to look longer than any of Gottfried’s first four teams.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio