Norfolk State loses to No. 25 NC State 84-62

Norfolk State’s tough week ended with yet another double-digit
loss to a Top 25 opponent.

No. 25 North Carolina State handed the Spartans a more lopsided
defeat than No. 10 Illinois did, an 84-62 romp Saturday night that
left little doubt in coach Anthony Evans’ mind which ranked team
was better.

”That mismatch with (forward C.J.) Leslie, I don’t think
Illinois has anyone like,” Evans said. ”Leslie’s, he’s a mismatch
nightmare.”

And that was on a relatively quiet night for Leslie.

The Spartans instead let the Wolfpack’s point guard have a
nearly perfect night from the field and allowed their big man to
have his best night on the boards: Lorenzo Brown scored 16 points
on 7-of-8 shooting and Richard Howell added 12 points and a
career-high 19 rebounds.

”He controls the tempo completely,” Evans said of Brown. ”We
couldn’t rattle him.”

Freshman forward T.J. Warren scored 21 points – the third
20-point performance of his nine-game college career – for the
Wolfpack (7-2). They shot 57 percent and broke the game open with a
transition-fueled run that bridged the halves, forcing 16 turnovers
and turning them into 21 points while winning their third straight
and improving to 29-0 against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
teams.

”It was tough at the beginning (of the season) because we
didn’t know what to do with all these scorers on our team,” Brown
said. ”I think we’re getting a little bit better with passing the
ball, passing to the right guy at the right time.”

Malcolm Hawkins had 16 points for the Spartans (6-7), who hung
around for the first 15 minutes but managed just one basket in
about 10 1/2 minutes while the game got away from them.

Norfolk State simply didn’t have anybody who could keep up with
Brown, who had 12 points in the first half and was nearly perfect
from the field: he made his first seven attempts before an
ill-advised jumper with about 3 1/2 minutes to play was blocked by
Rashid Gaston.

Brown added seven assists and helped the Wolfpack pull away. He
scored six points with two fast-break dunks during the 20-4 run
that started in the first half, ended in the second and pushed N.C.
State’s lead well into double figures to stay.

”Our defense keyed everything” during that stretch, N.C. State
coach Mark Gottfried said. ”We deflected some passes, we got our
hands on some loose balls, we turned those into fast breaks. …
(The Wolfpack) showed signs of a team that can guard somebody here
and there.”

Brown’s fast-break dunk capped the burst and made it 43-26 with
just under 18 minutes left. And after Warren’s layup gave the
Wolfpack their largest lead at 54-32 with 13 1/2 minutes to play,
Norfolk State didn’t get closer than 13 the rest of the way.

Gaston finished with 11 points for Spartans, whose top scorer
couldn’t get anything going because he spent much of the night in
foul trouble. Pendarvis Williams, who averages a team-best 12
points, finished with four on 2-of-10 shooting while playing only
16 minutes.

Leslie had 11 points and freshman Rodney Purvis added 10 for the
Wolfpack, whose first game at PNC Arena since Nov. 23 paired two
teams that had memorable runs nine months ago in the NCAA
tournament.

N.C. State upset its way to the round of 16, a spurt that helped
make the Wolfpack the preseason favorites in the ACC. The Spartans
return one starter (Williams) from the group that as a No. 15 seed
knocked off second-seeded Missouri.

Playing for the first time since final exams wrapped up, N.C.
State received a brief but effective test from a pesky Norfolk
State team playing four nights after its 10-point loss at Illinois.
The Spartans clawed back from an early 10-point deficit and closed
to 23-22 on Kris Brown’s layup with just under 7 minutes left in
the first half before going cold.