ACC Tournament: N.C. State 78, Boston College 57
By Paul Newberry
ATLANTA — Rather than its usual balanced approach, North Carolina State kept turning to Scott Wood.
He came through in a game the Wolfpack had to have to keep alive their NCAA hopes.
Wood made five 3-pointers and finished with 22 points, leading N.C. State past Boston College 78-57 in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Thursday.
N.C. State (21-11) raced to a 14-0 lead, turned back several runs by the Eagles (9-22), then pulled away in the closing minutes to remain a contender for the NCAA tournament.
“It’s hard to tell. I wish we knew,” first-year coach Mark Gottfried said of his postseason hopes. “I know if we win this tournament, we get to go.”
Wood swished a couple of huge 3s, turning back any chance of a Boston College comeback. He finished 5-of-9 beyond the arc, sending the Wolfpack into the quarterfinals Friday against Virginia.
Once he made a couple of 3s in the first half, Wood knew he had the hot hand. So he just kept shooting.
“You feel like you can make anything,” he said.
N.C. State was the only team in the conference with all five starters averaging in double figures, but the Wolfpack went with a more unbalanced approach to open the tournament. Lorenzo Brown had 12 points, C.J. Leslie added 11 and DeShawn Painter chipped in with 10 off the bench.
Don’t expect that to become a trend.
“You can’t reinvent your team in March,” Gottfried said.
Boston College finished with the most losses in school history, eclipsing the dubious mark set by the 1988-89 team that went 6-21. Ryan Anderson, one of four freshmen who started for the Eagles, led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Down the road, second-year coach Steve Donahue expects his young team to reap the benefits of its dismal season. But living in the present was tough.
“We almost had to go back to teaching the game at times,” he said.
Boston College closed to 43-37 with just under 15 minutes remaining on Anderson’s basket, but Wood answered with a pull-up trey. With the Eagles down 48-41, he knocked down another 3 to turn the momentum again.
Despite their first winning record in the ACC since 2006, the Wolfpack came into the tournament resting precariously on the NCAA bubble. They knew they needed at least one win in Atlanta, maybe two.
Next up: a Virginia team that edged the Wolfpack 61-60 on their home court Jan. 28.
“We left a lot of opportunities out there,” remembered Wood, eager for the rematch.
Lonnie Jackson, with 10 points, was the only other player in double figures for the offensively challenged Eagles, who shot just 39 percent (22 of 57) from the field.
The game got out hand down the stretch, even after the Wolfpack called timeout to clear to the bench. Jaqawn Raymond got a 3-pointer to rattle in and Thomas de Thaey dunked off a missed layup with 1 second left.
“All of us are going to be really hungry with how this game ended, with all the tips and dunks at the end of the game,” Anderson said. “That’s really going to motivate us going into the offseason.”
N.C. State stunned the Eagles and the sparse crowd at Philips Arena by scoring the first 14 points. Boston College missed seven straight shots, turned the ball over five times and needed nearly 71/2 minutes to get on the scoreboard.
The Eagles were down by as many as 17 in the first half, but they closed the gap when North Carolina State went cold. The Wolfpack missed eight straight shots, allowing Boston College to cut the deficit to 32-24.
But sloppiness in the final seconds cost the Eagles dearly. With a chance to set up for the final shot of the half, Boston College turned it over not once, but twice. Brown stripped the ball away from Jordan Daniels and went in for a layup, also drawing a foul on Daniels. Brown missed the free throw and Boston College rebounded, only to have Daniels give it away again.
C.J. Williams scooped up the loose ball, took off the other way with the clock running down, pulled up beyond the 3-point arc and swished a jumper as the horn sounded. The Wolfpack, who could’ve been ahead by only six points, instead went to the locker room with a 37-24 lead.
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The Associated Press