In the ACC opener on Saturday versus Wake Forest, State got exactly that.
Ralston Turner, Trevor Lacey and Cat Barber combined for 50 points, including a near-perfect 15-for-17 performance from the free throw line, as NC State defeated Wake Forest 78-65, at PNC Arena. It was a stark contrast from the Wolfpack’s loss at Purdue on Tuesday when they combined when the trio finished with 26 combined points.
In both games Lacey and Barber were sent to the free throw line late in the game. At Mackey Arena, the pair made only 2-of-8 but rebounded against the Demon Deacons to make all six attempts from the charity stripe in the final 87 seconds of the game to seal the win.
Barber, in particular, has taken some heat for late-game struggles at the line. However, the sophomore claims that confidence has never wavered—from him or the coaching staff.
“For me, I know I can free throws so I did not let that get to me,” Barber said. “I shoot free throws at the end of practice. I think everybody stepped up tonight and make big free throws. We took it to heart.”
Turner exploded over a span of nine minutes in the second half, scoring 17 of his game-high 21 points over that span. The redshirt-senior was modest after the game and gave credit to his teammates for his outburst. However, Gottfried was not surprised with what he saw from NC State’s only senior starter.
“Ralston is a guy that I’ve got great confidence in,” Gottfried said. “He started slow, missing shots, but he is one of those guys I just feel if he just stays with it he is eventually going to make them.”
Gottfried stated after the win versus Wake Forest that the Wolfpack, while having plenty of room to improve, also is still searching for its identity. While it is not clear yet how good NC State can be in Gottfried’s fourth season in Raleigh the head coach is fairly certain where the points will need to come from.
“I just think offensively those guys, Ralston, Trevor, Cat, are a little bit more ahead offensively than others, especially our big guys,” Gottfried said. “I think right now our perimeter guys are just a little bit ahead.”