DeShawn Painter, coming off the bench to replace an injured Tracy Smith, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds as the Wolfpack blew away East Carolina on Thursday night. The Pack used a 25-4 run to start the second half to down the Pirates in the opening round of the Charleston Classic and will play the winner of the UNC-Charlotte vs George Mason game tomorrow evening at 6pm.
Smith started the game but hurt his knee going for a loose ball and played just six minutes before spending the rest of the night on the bench. Coach Sidney Lowe said Smith would be a game-time decision for tomorrow. Javi Gonzalez also started but played only 10 minutes because of early foul trouble.
But the lack of senior leadership didn't faze the Pack, who came out of the halftime locker room and dominated. In addition to the 25-4 run, the Pack hit 10 of its first 12 shots coming out – mostly lay-ups and dunks thanks to fast breaks and ball movement.
Painter and freshman point guard Ryan Harrow, who played in the absence of Gonzalez, both registered their first career double-doubles. Harrow finished with 11 points, 10 assists and no turnovers. Lorenzo Brown led all scorers with 16 points while Scott Wood added 13 points.
The Pack forced 20 turnovers and shot over 50 percent for the game. They hit just 1-of-10 from behind the arc and shot just 69 percent on free throws but managed to get to the line 29 times in the blowout. They also improved their defensive rebounding numbers, as the Pirates had only 12 offensive rebounds on 32 misses.
The Pack struggled offensively out the gate, as without their seniors on the court the team forced bad shots and couldn't find a rhythm. The offense hit a bit of a stride going into the break though, ending the half on a 10-4 run that seemed to set the tone for the final 20 minutes.
The team that emerged from the locker room bore little resemblance to the team that had so much difficulty scoring early in the game. The Pack exploded with a 25-4 run that put away any doubt about the outcome, showing off their speed and athleticism by getting to the basket for easy lay-ups and dunks.
The Pack will move on to play tomorrow at 6pm against either UNC-Charlotte or George Mason. The game will be televised on ESPNU and should the Pack win they would advance to the finals on Sunday evening at 8pm.