Free-Throw Woes Doom Pack In Damaging Home Loss

<B>RALEIGH, NC --</b> Von Wafer finished with 23 points as Florida State ended a 26-game road losing streak in the ACC by defeating NC State 70-64.

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    Despite holding statistical advantages in rebounding (29-28), turnovers (nine to 10), points off turnovers (16 to eight), second-chance points (12 to six) and fastbreak points (seven to five), NC State suffered a crushing defeat at home to Florida State on Wednesday evening, 70-64. The Pack missed seven of its final nine free throws and made only 46.7 percent (7-15) from the charity stripe in the second half.

    The Wolfpack had only one player in double-figures, with Julius Hodge recording 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots without a turnover. Gavin Grant added six points, 10 boards and four assists, and Engin Atsur and Ilian Evtimov chipped in with nine points apiece, but it wasn't enough for the Pack, which couldn't get over the hump in the final 20 minutes after the Seminoles opened up a 14-point lead.

    In the first half, NC State used a 10-0 run keyed by back-to-back three-pointers by Evtimov to open up an 18-11 advantage, but the ‘Noles countered by ending the half on a 22-7 run, including a long, contested three-pointer near the buzzer by Adam Waleskowski that staked the visitors to a 33-25 lead at intermission.

    A 12-6 run to start the second half gave FSU a 14-point lead at 45-31, but the Wolfpack continued to chip away, with a three-point play from Cedric Simmons trimming the margin to seven points, 49-42, with 12:21 left. The Pack closed to 66-62 with 3:13 remaining, but the score remained that way for more than two minutes, with NC State missing out on several golden opportunities, especially from the free-throw line.

    A free throw by Jordan Collins pulled the Wolfpack to within three at 66-63 with 1:11 left, and a key rebound by Grant gave NC State the ball with 28.4 second remaining. After a Pack timeout, the team was instructed to look for a quick two or an open three, but settled instead for a three-pointer by Collins that came up empty. FSU salted the contest away by drilling its free throws – finishing 17 of 20 from the line in the final 20 minutes – to move to 11-9 overall and 3-4 in the league. Meanwhile, NC State lost its sixth game in eight tries, dropping to 12-7 overall and 2-4 in ACC play, with back-to-back road games at Clemson (Jan. 29) and UNC (Feb. 3) looming.

    Following the game, Cameron Bennerman, who has missed the past two games with a strained elbow, told reporters that the soonest he could return is in two weeks. Tony Bethel appeared in his second game in a row, but was largely ineffective in his six minutes, missing all three shot attempts, with two being blocked. On the bright side, rookies Grant, Simmons and Andrew Brackman combined for 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting in 57 minutes.

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