'Super' Win For State

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Another close game, another victory. After two straight heart-pounding conference wins against Clemson and Virginia, in similar fashion No. 17 NC State successfully outfought Maryland to come away with the 62-58 win.

  • Box Score
  • Herb Sendek Audio + Quotes
  • Wolfpack Players Audio + Quotes

    With under four minutes to go, Maryland's Nik Caner-Medley rattled off five straight points to tighten the score at 56-53.

    NC State's Tony Bethel responded by elevating for a contested three from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down. The shot hit nothing but net, and with 2:41 to go the Wolfpack appeared to have a commanding 59-53 advantage.

    But Caner-Medley answered with another three, before Bethel again helped the Pack's cause by nailing two free throws to push the lead to 61-56 with 31 seconds remaining.

    After Ekene Ibekwe layup with 17 seconds left cut NC State's lead to three points, Cameron Bennerman made one of two free throws to give the Pack its final 62-58 lead.

    Though the game ended much like the previous two, the manner in which the contest unfolded was completely different. This time, the Pack controlled the boards, but started slowly and struggled on offense. With five minutes remaining in the first half, NC State fell behind 26-19 before rallying to trail Maryland by just one point at halftime. Despite outrebounding the Terps 25-16 in the half, including 14 offensive rebounds, the Pack shot only 25.8% and surrendered 10 first-half turnovers.

    But in the second half, the Pack came out strong, outscoring the Terps 17-8 in the first seven minutes, including four three-pointers. Three-point shooting arguably won the game for NC State, as Pack players repeatedly found themselves open off screens and on the wings, and heated up for eight 3-point baskets in the second half. For the game, NC State only made 5-of-27 two-point field goals, but made 12-of-28 threes.

    Leading the way again was Bethel, who knocked down five 3-pointers on 5-of-9 shooting. Bethel tallied a game-high 17 points to go with team-highs of four assists and seven rebounds. No other Pack player shot better than 28% from the field, although Bennerman and Ilian Evtimov added 11 and 10 points respectively.

    "I thought that Tony really set the tone a couple of different times with his defense," said NC State coach Herb Sendek. "On top of that, he has really been shooting the ball well and with a lot of confidence. His performance for us this season has been incredible."

    Sendek was clearly in a good mood after the game, and entered the press room sporting a Troy Polamalu Pittsburgh Steelers jersey. Sendek, a Pittsburgh native, said he would try to catch his favorite NFL team play in the Super Bowl after wrapping things up at the RBC Center.

    Explaining the Polamalu jersey, Sendek said, "I really don't get to watch the Steelers as much as I'd like. I am a Steelers fan, I saw this laying around, and it is about my size. I do like Polamalu.

    "We have all these edits in basketball, I've got to get an edit of Polamalu and show it to my team. He's the personification of relentlessness."

    After overcoming a blowout at home against Seton Hall to claw its way to three straight conference victories, NC State could also be argued to personify that trait Sendek so covets. Despite struggling greatly on offense, shooting just 31% from the field against Maryland, the Wolfpack again hit clutch shots and made crucial defensive stops to win. The last time NC State shot so poorly and still won was February 16, 1991 against UCONN.

    NC State is now 18-4 overall and 7-2 in the ACC, the team's best league start since Jim Valvano's 1989 squad roared out to an 8-2 start. Next up for the Wolfpack is a huge road game against Miami. The Hurricanes trail NC State by one game in the conference standings and will be looking to avenge a double-digit loss to the Wolfpack in the conference opener for both teams.

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