Maverick Rowan connected on a career-best six 3-pointers and leading scorer Anthony “Cat” Barber added 22 points as North Carolina State beat Wake Forest 75-72 on Tuesday in the opening game of the ACC Tournament.
Rowan went 6 for 13 from 3-point territory to finish with 24 points, just shy of his career high. Barber, the conference’s leading scorer who started 2 of 11 from the field, made five of his final 10 shots and a couple of key free throws down the stretch for 12th-seeded N.C. State (16-16).
Freshman Bryant Crawford led 13th-seeded Wake Forest (11-20) with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Seniors Devin Thomas and Codi Miller-McIntyre combined to shoot 10 of 30 from the field.
The game featured 15 ties and 17 lead changes.
The Demon Deacons led by one at the half, and the combined differential between the teams in three games was five. They went back and forth with neither leading by more than six points until the final minutes.
In the second half, Rowan and Crawford went shot for shot. Rowan hit 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions, and Crawford answered back before being whistled for an offensive foul with 3:28 left and Wake Forest trailing 66-63.
A layup and a steal by big forward BeeJay Anya helped N.C. State build on the lead, and Caleb Martin’s block of Crawford’s fast-break layup attempt kept Wake Forest at bay.
Wake Forest cut N.C. State’s lead to two twice, but Barber and Martin hit free throws, and the Demon Deacons’ final three 3-point attempts missed on their final possession as time ran out.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons haven’t won in the District of Columbia since beating George Washington 78-77 on Dec. 6, 1975, when coach Danny Manning was 9 years old. ... This was Wake Forest’s second game at Verizon Center. The first game in 2005, also an ACC Tournament loss to N.C. State.
N.C. State: Barber clutched his right arm several times after falling to the floor with 5.2 seconds left in the first half. He did not miss any time as a result of the fall. ... Assistant coach Rob Moxley received the ACC’s Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award prior to the game. Moxley, whose life-threatening health scare hospitalized him 10 months ago, will transition to director of player personnel for next season. ... N.C. State improved to 21-11 in March and 8-4 in the ACC Tournament under coach Mark Gottfried.
N.C. State: Faces No. 19 Duke in second round Wednesday.