"Last game we came out really sluggish, this game we came out really fast," junior Gavin Grant said. "Then we relaxed a little bit and they came back. We really couldn't get any runs going."
All six players that stepped on to the court for the Pack scored in double figures, led by Courtney Fells and Ben McCauley with 16 each. Grant had 15 while Brandon Costner, Dennis Horner and Brian Nieman had 11.
"Balanced scoring is great," coach Sidney Lowe said. "That tells me that the ball is moving around. It tells that we're playing unselfish. I think we are fortunate that we have a couple of guys that we can run a play for and I feel they can knock down the shot."
The Pack jumped out to a quick 10-point lead to start the game, but couldn't keep the pressure on as the half wore on. The Pack once again struggled on the boards, giving up 14 offensive rebounds to the Mountaineers. Overall Mt. St. Mary's had a 24-14 edge on the boards.
"We weren't boxing and pushing back, we were allowing them to push us under," Lowe said. "That really hurt us. The defense and the rebounding at that point was not good."
Despite shooting just 36 percent from the half, the visiting Mountaineers managed to stay close by getting second and third chances. State, which shot 55 percent from the field but was just 2-of-8 from behind the arc, took a 42-35 lead into the locker room.
"We are trying to tell our guys to go strong 40 minutes," Lowe said. "I don't like using [fatigue] as an excuse, you have to go play. You've got to really check in mentally and block that fatigue factor out and play."
The Pack did shore up its rebounding in the second half, but still couldn't pull away from the Mountaineers. State never relinquished its lead, but the visitors stayed within 10 points for most of the game until the Pack finally put things together in the last few minutes to stretch the final margin to 15.
"We picked it up in the second half once we realized what we had to do," McCauley said. "It worked out well for us."
State will get one new face and one old one back into the line-up on Wednesday, when the Pack faces its stiffest competition to date against No. 9 Alabama. Engin Atsur, who's missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, is expected to return. Trevor Ferguson, who transferred from Pittsburgh last season, will become eligible and play in his first game for the Wolfpack.
"[Ferguson] can jump – don't be surprised if he dunks on somebody," Fells said.
The return of Atsur will allow Grant to slide back to shooting guard, after taking over point guard duties when the senior went down. Atsur's return might also allow Grant to take an occasional breather – the junior has played every minute since the injury.
"He's done an unbelievable job at that position – I still say its the toughest position on the floor to play," Lowe said. "Besides that he's got me in his ear, someone who has played that position. I'm very critical of that position."