by Mike Potter
RBC CENTER/RALEIGH N.C. State is back home again, looking to get turned in the right direction against MEAC power Delaware State.
One fun fact is that both head coaches are alumni of St. Paul’s College, where Jackson was the best player in school history and has his jersey retired. Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe finished his bachelor’s degree work at the tiny Lawrenceville, Va., school.
The Wolfpack will again go without its dominant post player, Tracy Smith, who remains out with soreness from arthroscopic knee surgery despite being cleared by doctors.
NCSU pulls an escape act this time, as Scott Wood’s jumper gives the Wolfpack the go-ahead points with 2.1 to go and Jay Threatt’s 60-footer rims out at the buzzer in a 72-70 victory for the hosts.
It’s nip-and-tuck early on with 10 lead changes and six ties before the Wolfpack goes on a 12-0 run to make it 36-24 on a pair of C.J. Leslie free throws with 1:37 left in the first half.
NCSU leads 39-29 at the break behind 11 points from DeShawn Painter.
The Wolfpack shoots 57.7 percent in the first half to the Hornets’ 40.0 and leads the rebound battle 17-12.
NCSU leads 42-30 on a Leslie layup before the Hornets scored seven straight points ending in a Jordan Lawson follow shot.
The hosts stretch it back to 54-44 on Richard Howell’s bucket in the paint with 11:28 to go, and are still up 62-53 on a Leslie bucket at 8:54. But the Hornets set up the nail-biting finish with an 11-0 run ending in a Desi Washington 3-pointer at 4:55.
DSU ties it at 68 on a Threatt 3-pointer at 1:41, and again at 70 on a pair of Casey Walker free throws with 37.6 left.
The Wolfpack gets the winner at 2.1, as Wood rebounds a missed 3-pointer from Ryan Harrow and fires up the winner from the right end of the free-throw stripe for his only points of the game.
Howell leads NCSU with 16 points, followed by Leslie with 15 points and nine rebounds and Painter with 14.
Walker leads all scorers with 20 points for the Hornets, followed by Washington with 18 and Marques Oliver with 11. Threatt has seven points and six rebounds with 11 assists.
The Wolfpack shoots 49.0 percent for the game to 42.6 for DSU and wins the rebound battle 35-31. NCSU commits 13 turnovers to 11 for the Hornets.
They said it …
Lowe: “I’m relieved. Those (DSU) guys played well and we give them credit. We missed a lot of shots inside and lost our man on defense several times. It almost cost us the ball game. You don’t want it to come down to (a last-second heave) and we should have been able to close the game out. We had a couple of chances to make a play, but it didn’t happen. … (Wood’s shot) was big. We wanted to take the last shot, and we ran it down and went small. Scott was in the right place at the right time and he made a play. ”
Jackson: “We did a great job on their shooters. They just beat us up inside. As a whole, I thought it was a great basketball game. It’s hard to talk about what a win would have meant to us. I thought we came in here with an excellent game plan. We did the majority of things we wanted to do, and it came down to the last possession. They made theirs and then we were inches off from making ours. We got exactly what we wanted out of the last shot. We got Jay the ball at halfcourt, two dribbles and I thought the ball was on line. Marques did a great job creating space (around defender Jordan Vandenberg.) He was able to find Jay on the outlet pass and when he shot it I actually thought the ball was going in.”
Wood: “My shots just didn’t fall, but I guess I got the one that mattered, so I guess that’s all that counts. I feel like it’s almost like a bailout for the way we won the game. Really, we probably shouldn’t have won the game. But, at the same time, I’m just glad — a win’s a win. But we’ve got to come back and change a lot of things. You play like that against ACC teams, you’re not going to have the record you want, and if you want to make the NCAA Tournament you’ve got to play together and you’ve got to become a team.”
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack needs to get Tracy Smith back ASAP, end of story. And that the Hornets are going to be a force to reckon with once again in the MEAC.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Wood’s game-winning basket.
NCSU leads 2-0.
NCSU: Won 1.
DSU: Lost 3.
NCSU vs. Alabama A&M, Tuesday, 4 p.m.
DSU at Clemson, Monday, 7 p.m.