NC State 60, Princeton 58

North Carolina State had made everything look easy in its first

two games under coach Mark Gottfried. This time, his players proved

they could win a tough one, too.

DeShawn Painter knocked down a straightaway jumper with 4.2

seconds left to help the Wolfpack beat Princeton 60-58 on Wednesday

night, keeping Gottfried unbeaten here while giving N.C. State a

needed early-season test.

Lorenzo Brown turned in an impressive performance for the

Wolfpack (3-0), finishing with 16 points, eight assists, five

rebounds and five steals despite missing the past two days of

practice with a stomach bug. He also fed Painter near the top of

the circle for the winning basket, though the Wolfpack had to sweat

this one out until Ian Hummer’s desperation heave from near

halfcourt fell short as time expired.

N.C. State trailed by nine in the first half and 35-32 at the

break, but rallied despite playing almost the entire game without

junior outside shooter Scott Wood, who was lost to an ankle injury

barely 2 minutes in.

”We’re in the infant stages with our team and hopefully

building something great,” Gottfried said. ”Sometimes you’re

going to have games like this where you have to dig down and

overcome some obstacles.”

N.C. State also played for the third straight time without

sophomore forward C.J. Leslie and freshman forward Thomas de Thaey,

with Leslie serving the last of a three-game suspension for

receiving improper benefits while de Thaey is out indefinitely

while the school reviews the Belgium native’s eligibility from

overseas.

Painter and Richard Howell had made up for their absences in the

first two games, but Howell (10 points) had foul trouble and

Painter (11) had a quiet night until hitting the winning shot.

”It was just a gutsy shot,” Painter said. ”Sometimes you are

either going to win it, you’re going to be a hero and take it, or

if you miss your shot people are going to say you’re a loser or mad

at you. But I pride myself on guts and I have to thank God for

giving me the opportunity to get that shot.”

Alex Johnson, a graduate transfer who had struggled with his

shot so far this season, appeared to have the Wolfpack poised to

win when he hit a 3-pointer from the right corner for a 58-55 lead

with 1:55 left. But Douglas Davis lost Brown on the right side and

launched a 3 that swished through the net and tied the game with

20.6 seconds left.

Davis scored 21 points for the Tigers (0-2) and hit five

3-pointers. He had 13 points in the first half as Princeton shot 52

percent and hit 6 of 7 3-point tries before halftime.

But the Tigers cooled in the second half, both from the Wolfpack

playing with more defensive intensity and from the Tigers missing

some of the open looks they had knocked down early. Princeton

missed 20 of 28 shots in the second half while the Wolfpack shot 52

percent after halftime.

N.C. State also took a 40-24 rebounding advantage, which led to

a 15-5 edge in second-chance points.

”None of us were happy with the results,” Princeton coach

Mitch Henderson said. ”And the things that we talked about coming

in – defense, rebounding – we got hurt on at key points of the

game.”

The Wolfpack opened the season with relatively easy wins against

UNC Asheville and Morehead State, but couldn’t get out in

transition nearly as effectively this time and ended up in a

grind-it-out fight to the buzzer.

Losing Wood didn’t help, either. He rolled his right ankle as he

came down on a shot while being fouled, hitting the floor and

immediately grabbing his ankle. He was helped off the court and put

no weight on the leg on the way to the locker room at the 18:04

mark. He emerged just before the start of the second half, walking

with crutches and wearing a protective boot on his right foot.

X-rays revealed no fracture, but Gottfried said Wood would be

out ”for a while.”

The game also included Gottfried being whistled for his first

technical foul with the Wolfpack with 6:13 left in the second

half.

The game is part of the Legends Classic. N.C. State travels to

East Rutherford, N.J., to face No. 18 Vanderbilt in the semifinals

on Saturday.