Defense Keys 71-45 Wolfpack Victory

<B>RALEIGH, NC --</b> It may not have been the most entertaining game, but No. 19 NC State advanced to the finals of the BCA Invitational after routing Elon 71-45.

  • Box Score
  • Locker Room Report: NC State Players
  • Locker Room Report: Coach Herb Sendek

    Wolfpack guard Julius Hodge had another stellar game, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists on the night. The senior's 11 points keyed a first half that ended NC State out front 32-18.

    "I think, when compared to last night, our offense wasn't at the same level," Hodge said following the win. "But we turned up the defensive pressure, and when a team can do that -- when you're not making shots as you usually do, and you can turn up the defensive pressure and stop them, and get the rebound and go in transition, I think that just makes you that much better of a team. But we're not really looking too much onto tonight's offensive output because we got the win and we played great defense."

    Defensively, the effort was there all night for the Wolfpack, as they limited Elon to just 38.3% shooting.

    NC State also came in with the gameplan of shutting down Elon's top two returning players: Scottie Rice and Jackson Atoyebi. Guards Tony Bethel and Engin Atsur held Rice in check, limiting him to just two points on 1 of 9 shooting. Center Jordan Collins and forward Ilian Evtimov did an outstanding job on Atoyebi, Elon's leading scorer. They held the 6'7 senior to just two points and limited him to only two field goal attempts on the night.

    "We did a good job of scouting them," Evtimov said. "The plays they run, we already knew about it before the game. They made some threes, though; they came out and they countered what we did. They still scored and we've got to do a better job on defense, even though the numbers are showing that they didn't score too much."

    The Wolfpack received a boost from the bench tonight as backup forwards Ilian Evtimov and Andrew Brackman added 10 and nine points respectively. Brackman was particularly effective, hitting four of five shots while also recording two blocks.

    "I'm working on it," Brackman said. "Yesterday, I kind of stumbled coming out. I was a little nervous, but today, the coaches just talked to me and told me to play my game and try to get in the flow of the game. And I went out there and I tried to do what I was used to doing in high school and before that … I learned a lot. I took a big step forward."

    The lone bright spot for Elon was the play of guard Matt Nowlin. Nowlin finished the night with 16 points on six of eight shooting, connecting on four of five attempts from beyond the arc.

    NC State (2-0) will face East Carolina (2-0) Friday night at 7:30 in the championship game of the BCA Invitational. Elon (1-1) will face Oregon State (1-1) at 9:30 in the consolation game.


  • Julius Hodge is averaging 21 points on the season. He also became just the 18th player in ACC history and the second player in NC State history to gain 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, and 300 assists for a career. Guard Anthony Grundy is the only other Wolfpacker to accomplish the feat.

  • Hodge also celebrated his 21st birthday tonight. "When is his birthday? Today is his birthday?" Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek asked tonight when told of Hodge's birthday. "Is that right? Nobody tells me anything. I'm the last to know. Because I missed it, I'm going to wait until next year to give him my present."

  • Sendek also hopes the Wolfpack faithful will turn out in full force tomorrow for the championship game. "Hey, we've got to fill this place up tomorrow night," he said. "I mean, everybody, if you want to help us out, get that out in your papers and on your broadcasts. Friday night is not a school night, 7:30, early tap, we've got to get this place humming tomorrow. Bring some of your friends; at least one of them."

  • Point guard Tony Bethel had another solid game, finishing with eight points, six assists, and five rebounds. He also logged 32 minutes of action, the most by any Wolfpack player.

  • NC State recorded 21 assists on 27 field goals tonight. The Wolfpack also shot 50.9% from the field and 50% from beyond the three-point arc.

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