Ted Kapita let out a frustrated “ahh” when he missed a free throw in the second half of Sunday’s win over St. Francis of Brooklyn.
The N.C. State freshman forward had made his first nine shots, maybe he wanted to have a perfect game in his college debut.
Kapita was close enough. He scored 17 points and added a team-high eight rebounds off the bench to lift the Wolfpack to a 86-61 win over the Terriers from the Northeast Conference.
“I didn’t want to miss that (free throw),” Kapita said. “I was mad at myself. We practice that every day and there’s no reason for me to miss.”
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Kapita made his first six field goals and first three free throws. He finished the game 7-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the foul line. The 6-foot-8, 219-pound power forward from the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed off an array of post moves and a soft touch in his first college game.
“He was anxious to play, obviously, and very excited to play,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “That was a good first night for Ted.”
Kapita missed Friday’s 81-79 win over Georgia Southern while the NCAA reviewed his eligibility. Kapita’s amateur status was in question after he was courted by pro leagues in France and Las Vegas last year.
He was frustrated by the NCAA process. He said the NCAA asked about “teams I never played for, the country I never signed with, the money I never took.”
After originally signing with Arkansas last year and then committing to Southern Methodist, Kapita was happy to be able to get on the court and show what he could do.
He didn’t check into the game until the 5:23 mark of the first half, but he made quick work. He grabbed a rebound of a miss by forward BeeJay Anya at 4:21 and was fouled. He made his free throws to give N.C. State a 33-19 lead.
Kapita’s first field goal came two minutes later with a nifty dribble spin and take to the basket for a layup.
With starters Dennis Smith Jr. and Abdul-Malik Abu in foul trouble, N.C. State needed Kapita and others to step up.
Sophomore guard Torin Dorn led the Wolfpack with 21 points, on 9-of-11 shooting, while senior guard Terry Henderson finished with 11 points.
Sophomore wing Maverick Rowan missed the game with a concussion-like symptoms he suffered in a physical game with Georgia Southern in the opener on Friday.
“Holding him out is the right thing to do,” Gottfried said. “Hopefully, he’ll be back for us the next couple of days.”
Last year, if N.C. State was down a starter, Abu had foul trouble and the point guard had foul trouble, the Wolfpack would have been in trouble.
But N.C. State’s new-found depth came in handy on Sunday in a game it controlled from start to finish. Kapita was the big surprise.
He finished an alley-oop from freshman forward Darius Hicks at 14:03 for a 56-41 lead and then caught a pass from freshman guard Markell Johnson in traffic and went up strong for a layup.
He was fouled on the play but fought through contact to finish the basket, a trait N.C. State’s bigs have lacked for much of Gottfried’s six-year tenure.
After the hoop, Kapita flexed his biceps for the crowd and then waved to the fans for more noise. N.C. State can expect energy and emotion from Kapita.
“I play with my heart,” Kapita said. “For me, I’ve got to go play hard, and I’ve got to go rebound and leave everything there.
“It doesn’t really matter who we play against. That’s how I’m going to play every day.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio