Wolfpack falls to Florida State, 65-78
By Joedy McCreary
Associated PressRALEIGH ó Toney Douglas’ latest big night kept Florida State from sliding into an early hole in the ACC.
Douglas scored 21 points and the Seminoles reeled off 12 straight down the stretch of their 78-65 victory over N.C. State on Tuesday night.
Uche Echefu and Solomon Alabi added 12 points apiece for the Seminoles (14-3, 1-1). Florida State held the Wolfpack to one field goal over the final six minutes while outscoring Sidney Lowe’s squad 19-2 during that span.
“We’ve got to learn how to maintain our leads ó especially on the road,” Douglas said.
Apparently, they’ve figured out how to reclaim one.
N.C. State went ahead 63-59 on Julius Mays’ jumper with 6:13 remaining but went cold after that. Meanwhile, the Seminoles scored on four straight trips, with the second of Alabi’s jumpers in the lane putting Florida State ahead to stay with just under four minutes to play.
Mays, a backup point guard as a freshman, scored 13 points in the first double-figure game of his career for N.C. State (9-5, 0-2). The Wolfpack lost its third straight and dropped into a three-way tie for last place in the ACC with Georgia Tech and once-No. 1 North Carolina.
Down the stretch, the Wolfpack seemed to play its best basketball with several starters on the bench.
“The lineup that we had in was just playing hard from the end of the first half,” Mays said. “We weren’t letting (Florida State) get offensive rebounds or second chances. We made a couple of substitutions, and it changed a little bit, but I think all we’ve got to do is go back to the drawing board, and everyone’s got to be ready to play.”
Courtney Fells had 12 points and Brandon Costner added 10 for N.C. State, which had 16 turnovers and is 0-2 in the league for the third straight year.
Costner attempted just two shots after halftime and played six minutes in the second half ó still better than starting point guard Farnold Degand, who didn’t play in the final 20 minutes because coach Sidney Lowe wasn’t happy with his first-half production.
“I want strong, aggressive guys, and I don’t think he was aggressive tonight,” Lowe said.
Costner and forward Ben McCauley sat while Mays and fellow freshman Johnny Thomas led N.C. State to its late four-point lead. The Wolfpack’s cold spell seemed to coincide with the reinsertion of those starters with 5:09 remaining.
“Just like any other team in this country, there are certain guys that they count on to play well every night, to win games,” Lowe said. “There are certain guys that we need to play well to win. That’s the life. That’s basketball. … We just talked about guys stepping up and playing their role, doing what they’re supposed to do. We didn’t have that tonight.”
Earlier, N.C. State tightened things up, rallying from a 12-point deficit on the strength of a 21-7 run that bridged halftime and coming away with points on 12 consecutive trips downcourt.
That came after Florida State looked to have taken control late in the first half, claiming a 28-16 lead after outscoring N.C. State by a 24-4 margin during a 10-minute stretch in which the Wolfpack missed 12 of 14 shots and turned the ball over nine times.That Douglas ended up as his team’s top scorer was no surprise. The Auburn transfer and only player on the roster averaging double-figure scoring led the Seminoles for the 13th time in 17 games.
Echefu added 11 rebounds in his first start of the season for Florida State, which has won two straight from the Wolfpack for the first time in more than a decade.
“Any time you win your road games, it’s a plus,” Douglas said. “You take care of business at home, and you’re sitting good.”