Pack Tops Privateers in Opener, 65-59

Brandon Costner scored 19 points and Ben McCauley added 17 as NC State battled past New Orleans 65-59 in the season opener for both teams.

It wasn't pretty, but you know Sidney Lowe and his squad will take it.

NC State wasn't hitting shots early and fell behind 11-5 with just under 12 minutes left in the first half, but the second unit provided a spark, led by Trevor Ferguson, Javier Gonzalez and Tracy Smith. Smith came in and scored on an assist from layup on their first possession and Ferguson followed with a 3-pointer on another assist from Gonzalez.

After falling back behind by seven, the Pack cut the deficit to 24-23 on a 3-pointer from Costner with just over four minutes remaining. Both teams exchanged baskets the rest of the first half, and the Wolfpack wasn't able to take the lead. However, in the final seconds, Ferguson rebounded a missed shot and hit a streaking McCauley who banked in short shot righ at the buzzer to tie the score at 31-31 at the half.

NC State shot just 41% for the first half, but did have nine assists on 11 made baskets. New Orleans, which returned just three players from last year's team that defeated the Wolfpack in Raleigh, shot 50% from the field in the opening 20 minutes with Darrian McKinstry knocking in 5-of-7 shots to lead the way.

The Wolfpack played with Farnold Degand clearly favoring his injured knee. The redshirt junior point guard started and played 13 minutes in the first half, but didn't play in the final 20 minutes as he iced his injured knee at the end of the bench.

With Javy Gonzalez manning the point guard spot, the Wolfpack was much more effective in the second half. The Pack started to seize control of the game midway through the game as a Courtney Fells layup pushed its lead to 48-38 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. New Orleans didn't quit and cut the lead to 59-55 at the two minute mark on two free throws from T.J. Worley, but NC State hit its free throws down the stretch to close out the win.

The key for NC State was the Wolfpack's efficiency in the last half. After shooting just 41% from the field to start the game, the Pack hit 60% of its shots to end the game shooting 48.9% from the field. New Orleans hit just 40% of its shots to close the game, connecting on 9-of-22 from the field.

After closing out the win in front of 1,300 spectators in New Orleans, the Wolfpack returns home for a game next Saturday in Reynolds Coliseum against High Point. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm.

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