The rest of the night belonged to the Pack, who gave their head coach the birthday present of mustering the energy of a team still smarting from their home loss to Georgia Tech last week. N.C. State bested Boston College in virtually every statistically category, most notably rebounds (44-28), steals (16-9), and fast break points (27-11). The Eagles’ bench outscored N.C. State’s, mainly because the Wolfpack doesn’t have much of one.
“The last time we were at home was definitely on our minds,” said Wood. “So we wanted to start strong and try to not let the fans down this time.”
Despite no visits to the charity stripe, Wood led all scorers with 16 points. C.J. Leslie chipped in 14 before missing much of the second half with yet another recurrence of leg cramps. Lorenzo Brown scored 9 and dished out 11 assists. And, Richard Howell returned to his double-double form, asserting his strength in the paint by tossing in 11 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
Indeed, when asked about Howell’s tenacity on the boards, Boston College coach Steven Donahue responded admiringly and succinctly: “Howell is a bitch.”
After scoring the game’s first basket just over a minute into the game, Boston College would never lead again. Still, the score was tied 21-21 with 8:46 left in the first half. That’s when N.C. State went on a 25-7 run to enter halftime with a 45-28 lead.
The lead would get no closer than the 14-point final margin for the rest of the contest, thanks mainly to Wood, who nailed 4-7 three-point attempts and was spurred on through the game’s waning stages by a back-and-forth with Eagles’ reserve guard Danny Rubin, who apparently believed that scoring six points in 17 minutes off the bench gave him license to yap about it.
“Defensively our ball pressure was better than it’s been in a while,” said Wolfpack coach and birthday boy Mark Gottfried. “[W]e tried to really disrupt them from getting a lot of clean looks, so I like that defensively. And offensively, when we had the ball on the break a lot of good things happened tonight.”
N.C. State travels to South Beach this Sunday to take on Miami. After a visit to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels next Thursday, the Wolfpack returns to the RBC Center on Jan. 28 against Virginia.