"You have to execute a little better because I know during walk-through and practices all this week those are the main two concerns -- threes and stopping Jackson and today we just didn't do it," Scott Wood said after the Pack dropped a 75-66 ACC decision to BC, in a game State led entering the last four minutes after twice battling from behind.
"Coming into the game we knew they were a 3-point shooting team," said Tracy Smith. "We were up three points and they came and hit two huge 3-pointers because we went under the two ball screens. It's a learning thing – we gotta go to practice and learn how to win a game on the road."
It did come down to the late threes.
State fought back from an 11-point first-half deficit and got to within 28-26 at the break. The Pack then fell behind by eight again in the second half, at 50-42, before Wood and Ryan Harrow combined for the next 16 State points to bring the team back again.
State led, 60-57, when Smith scored with 4:17 left, but this is where things went sour for the visiting team.
First, Biko Paris hit a three. Then, Corey Raji hit a three, all while State wasn't executing at the offensive end. The Eagles went on a closing 18-6 run that dropped State 11-5 on the season, 1-1 in the ACC.
"That was a tough one there," said coach Sidney Lowe. "That was a disappointing finish for us. None of us was pleased with that – especially from a defensive standpoint, we didn't get stops when we needed to.
"I thought our guys did a great job of really fighting back and getting back into the ballgame. That definitely was a positive and we had some positive things that happened, but when we had the lead by three we relaxed a little bit on defense when we should have been geared up to get another stop.
"They came down and made a three and then Raji made another three … that's something we talked about the whole last two days is taking these guys off the 3-point line, so we didn't do a good job there."
BC finished 9-for-23 from 3-point range.
Smith, in his fourth game back after knee surgery, matched his three-game average with 18 points (in 31 minutes) to lead the Wolfpack, who visit Miami Saturday. C.J. Leslie had 15 points and nine rebounds, Wood scored 12 points and Harrow had 11 off the bench.
Our defense really hurt us, I thought," said Lowe. "They scored 47 points in the second half and they scored the last seven, eight times, or maybe eight out of nine times or whatever. You can't win that way."
"We got back in it in that first half and then second half they got up again and we came back and took the lead. That was great. Then we somehow didn't communicate on the defensive end. The things that we were doing early, for whatever reason, we didn't talk it through late and it cost us … we kinda lost our concentration on the defensive end."
He pointed to the team's youth as a main reason things like this happen, but said his club will have to grow up fast to get through the rest of the ACC schedule.
"This is it," he said. "All our games are going to be like this."