More important than the outcome, however, is the health of senior starting center Jordan Vandenberg.
The Australian started the game and scored on two quick dunks before falling awkwardly on his left ankle and going down in a heap. The big man had to be helped off the court by Warren and the training staff, and didn't return to the bench after halftime. X-Rays were negative on the ankle but head coach Mark Gottfried said after the game he doesn't have a timeline yet for Vandenberg's return.
Without their center, the Pack was forced to employ a shorter line-up against Pembroke, one that led to some problems on the glass. Pembroke pulled down 19 offensive rebounds on 44 missed field goals and ended the game with 19 second chance points. The Pack, by comparison, grabbed six of its 24 misses and had only eight points off those rebounds.
While returners Warren and Lewis grabbed the spotlight, the night also marked the first time on the court against real competition for a host of new Pack players. Ralston Turner started and delivered a stellar overall line with 20 points, four assists, two blocks and three steals. Kyle Washington also started and delivered 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting while Anthony Barber came off the bench to score 14 points and Desmond Lee added 16 on 6-of-8 from the floor.
The Pack started strong with two transition dunks from Jordan Vandenberg put the team up 11-3 in the early going. Lewis led the break magnificently for the Pack, and finished the half with seven assists and just two turnovers in 13 minutes.
Once Vandenberg went down and the Pack subbed in its bench players, the team got sloppy. Pembroke rallied back to tie the game at 20, and while the Pack lead for almost the entire half Pembroke never let the home team pull away. Pembroke used 13 second-chance points and 13 points off 10 turnovers by the Pack to keep the game close for the first 20 minutes.
Pembroke spent most of the second half hanging around as well, pounding the offensive glass and getting the ball inside to counter the Pack's smaller line-up. But the Pack's talent proved too much down the stretch, with State clamping down defensively when it had to pulling the lead into double digits in the final minutes.
The Pack will play its second exhibition game at PNC Arena on Saturday at 5 pm against Morehouse, following the Pack's football game with North Carolina.