College Basketball: N.C. State 85, Catawba 61
By Bret Strelow
RALEIGH ó Catawba arrived at Reynolds Coliseum for its morning shootaround, and 10-year-old Jamie Baker dribbled two basketballs as he posed for a picture.
The Division II program’s second exhibition against an ACC opponent resembled the first in terms of candidness and competitiveness.
The Indians, who faced North Carolina at the Smith Center three years ago, visited N.C. State on Tuesday and fell 85-61 in the Wolfpack’s historic on-campus gym.
The day produced more scrapbook material for Catawba coach Jim Baker’s oldest son and provided Baker’s team with an unforgettable playing experience.
“When we went and played Carolina, Jamie is a big Carolina fan and he’s got a picture dribbling two balls in the Dean Dome,” Baker said. “It’s really cute ó the Nike swoosh is exactly the same on both balls.
“We had to recreate the picture this morning at shootaround.”
Catawba, which trailed by four points at halftime of its 89-63 loss to North Carolina in 2005, fell behind 8-0 in the first two minutes against the Wolfpack.
The Indians drew within 47-37 in the first three minutes of the second half, and N.C. State led 55-44 before it iced the game with an 18-4 run.
“I don’t think we played good the first seven or eight minutes, but after that I thought we played OK,” said Baker, who posed with all four of his children for an on-court picture afterward. “We gassed out there a little bit at the end.
“It was a great experience for our guys to come in and play with all the history they have here. Hopefully we gave them their money’s worth.”
Point guard Farnold Degand, who is coming back from a knee injury, moved into N.C. State’s starting lineup and scored a team-high 15 points. Brandon Costner and Tracy Smith had 14 apiece.
Catawba guard Rob Fields came off the bench and scored 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting. Starting guard Dominick Reid posted 14 points, and Donald Rutherford grabbed 10 rebounds.
Courtney Fells pressured Catawba standout Antonio Houston into a 2-for-11 shooting performance. Houston, who didn’t score in the first half, finished with four points, six rebounds, four turnovers, three steals and five fouls in 31 minutes.
Fields played so effectively that Fells eventually switched defensive assignments.
“I think I’ll take this throughout the season with me,” Fields said. “I worked real hard with most of the guys over the summer, and we put in a lot of work. I felt like we came in here and were confident.
“A lot of guys told me good game, and that makes you feel good with that caliber of ACC basketball players giving you props.”
Reid hit a pair of early 3-pointers, but N.C. State led 25-8 midway through the first half. Fields scored 12 of Catawba’s next 16 points, and Rutherford’s tomahawk dunk in transition cut the deficit to 37-26. The Indians trailed 43-28 at the break.
A left-handed runner off the glass by Isaac Rose pulled Catawba within 10 at the 17-minute mark, and N.C. State’s Trevor Ferguson missed a layup at the other end.
Reid secured the rebound and pitched ahead to Houston, who missed an open 3-pointer from the right wing. Rose grabbed the rebound, but Fells blocked the putback attempt.
The Wolfpack’s late run left Catawba facing a 73-48 deficit with six minutes left.
“We were in there, but we just wore down at the end,” Reid said. “They were a little bigger than us, but we were in there.”
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