Painter's 12 points and 12 rebounds on 4-for-6 shooting represented the second double-double of his career. Howell's 14 points and 15 rebounds were good for the fourth of his career.
Williams led all scorers with 18 on a deadly efficient 8-for-10 shooting night, bettering his previous high of 16 set twice last season.
Brown tallied eight steals in the first half alone to go with 13 points and nine assists, just missing out on what would have been his first career triple-double, and the first for an NC State player since Julius Hodge in 2005.
"I'm excited about the win and excited for our players, because we knew going in that we had a tough game ahead of us against an NCAA tournament team that would challenge us in a great way," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. "We had to overcome a lot tonight. We had some guys in foul trouble, and some guys out. I liked that we had to dig down a little bit in certain parts of the game. [UNC Asheville]'s two guards played great. They went toe-to-toe with us, which is why they went to the tournament last year. Overall, it's a good start for us."
The Wolfpack stifled the UNCA attack in the first half, holding the Bulldogs to 9-for-31 (29.0%) shooting to build a 17-point halftime lead. NC State turned many of those fruitless possessions into quick points on the other end, outscoring the Bulldogs 23-7 on fast break points for the game.
Coming back after a disastrous first half, UNCA recovered with a 9-2 run over the first three minutes of the second stanza, cutting the NC State lead to 46-36. The Bulldogs inched closer moments later, closing the gap to 48-41 at 15:07.
After a timeout, NC State resumed control, stretching the lead back to double figures on a key sequence. Jordan Vandenberg drew a foul on a made layup to make it 52-41. Vandenberg missed the ensuing free throw, but chased down his own rebound, setting up an Alex Johnson three-pointer to put the Pack on top 55-41 with 12:23 left.
The Bulldogs climbed to a single-digit deficit only twice over the next 10 minutes, 62-53 and 76-67, as NC State's lead grew as large as 15 at 74-59 with 4:50 remaining.
In the final two minutes, UNCA made its last gasp, pulling to a 81-72 disadvantage with 1:33 on the clock after Quinard Jackson's three-pointer. Brown converted a pair of free throws before Matt Dickey added another three to make the final 84-75 NC State.
NC State came out of the gate with three-pointers from Brown and Scott Wood. Following a Howell slash to the basket for an and-one, a pair of run-outs by Brown handed the Pack a 15-5 lead. The Wolfpack defense surrendered only one field goal over the first seven minutes, limiting UNCA to a 1-for-12 clip at the first media timeout.
The Bulldogs kept the margin inside 10 for the next five minutes until a 17-5 Wolfpack run extended the lead to 19 at the 2:30 mark on a layup by Painter, capping his nine first half points on 3-for-4 shooting to go with 10 boards to lead all rebounders.
UNCA added the last bucket of the half to make it 44-27 before heading into the locker room. NC State's defense held the Bulldogs to 9-for-31 (29.0%) shooting, including a 1-for-9 (11.1%) mark from three over the first 20 minutes. Brown led all scorers with 11 first half points and snagged all eight of his steals in the first period.
NC State returns to the hardcourt Sunday, November 13 at the RBC Center against Morehead State. The game will be carried on ESPN3 beginning at 6 p.m. and Wolfpack Radio Network 30 minutes prior to tip.