BC downs Pack
By Bret Strelow
RALEIGH — The raucous RBC Center crowd included about 25 supporters of Boston College freshman Shamari Spears.
Spears, a former Salisbury High star, enjoyed playing a collegiate game in his home state.
Boston College’s 74-58 victory against North Carolina State made Saturday’s experience even sweeter.
“The atmosphere was what I thought it was going to be — this is North Carolina basketball, a basketball state,” said Spears, who had three points, five rebounds, four turnovers and four fouls in 23 minutes off the bench. “The atmosphere was great, but once we got the lead, the atmosphere kind of quieted down.”
Boston College guard Tyrese Rice, who as a youngster played alongside Spears in Salisbury, had 17 points and 10 assists to help the Eagles (10-4, 2-0 ACC) improve to 3-0 at the RBC Center since 2003. Shooting guard Sean Marshall contributed 23 points and 14 rebounds.
The return of N.C. State point guard Engin Atsur enabled Gavin Grant to move back to his forward position, and he led the Wolfpack (10-5, 0-2 ACC) with 22 points. Brandon Costner recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but Boston College outrebounded the Wolfpack by a 50-30 count.
The Eagles collected 13 of their 23 offensive rebounds in the first half, when N.C. State totalled 14 boards. It faced a 37-19 deficit heading into the second half.
“We looked like a young team,” first-year N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said. “Boston College came in with the mindset that they would punch us early. We told our guys to hold off and battle, but we didn’t hold our ground.”
Both teams took the floor at full strength — Boston College forward Jared Dudley scored 20 points after missing three games, including an overtime loss to Duquesne, with a left foot injury.
A pair of 3-pointers from Rice put N.C. State in a 21-7 hole with seven minutes left in the first half, and the Eagles held the Wolfpack to 26.9-percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
“Just the energy Jared brings to our team, we felt like we were whole again,” BC center Sean Williams said. “We have a lot of statements we need to make to make up for some of the blemishes we had earlier in the season.”
Atsur, who missed nine straight games with a hamstring injury, didn’t make a field goal in four attempts but finished with four points and a career-high 10 assists.
“It was good to be back, but I wish we had a better start,” he said. “I wish we had the same intensity we had in the second half. First home ACC game, I think our guys realized it will take more effort to beat the ACC teams. I think it’s a great lesson.”
A 15-3 run cut the Eagles’ lead to 11 points midway through the second half, and Wolfpack freshman Dennis Horner came away with a steal following a poor pass from Marshall.
Horner converted a fastbreak layup at the other end, but Marshall took a charge to wipe out the basket. His 3-pointer on Boston College’s next possession increased the lead to 14 points.
Marshall scored 22 points during his team’s visit to Raleigh last season, and the circumstances were similar Saturday.
“I had a problem with my knee coming into that game, and I wasn’t supposed to play,” Marshall said. “The same thing happened before this game — the same part of my knee started bothering me. Hopefully my knee can bother me a couple more times.”
NOTES: Williams, who swatted three shots and goaltended three others, has 66 blocks in 12 games. He blocked nine shots, including five 3-pointers, at N.C. State last season. … Atsur played 31 minutes in his first action since Nov. 27. “We knew he would be tired, but he needed to work through that fatigue to build his strength,” Lowe said. “He was 40 percent of what he could be, and 40 percent is better than nothing.” … Grant didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this season. He had 50 in nine games as the Wolfpack’s replacement point guard. … Boston College plays at Wake Forest on Tuesday night, and a story about Spears’ stay in North Carolina will appear Tuesday.
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.