N.C. State 68, No. 23 Wake Forest 54
North Carolina State didn’t blow another big halftime lead
against an upper-division Atlantic Coast Conference team.
Farnold Degand hit two 3-pointers in the decisive second-half
run that helped the Wolfpack beat No. 23 Wake Forest 68-54 on
Saturday, snapping a five-game losing streak with their first
league win in a month.
Tracy Smith scored 14 points to lead the Wolfpack (15-13, 3-10),
who led the entire game but needed three straight 3s from Degand
and Javi Gonzalez with about 6 minutes left to get firm
It was quite a reversal from Wednesday’s loss to Maryland, a
game in which the Wolfpack blew a 10-point halftime lead in an ugly
second-half collapse. This time, N.C. State led 28-18 at halftime,
but protected that lead and even pushed ahead by 17 in the final
seconds to release some of the pressure that had built in the RBC
“Some relief? Absolutely,” NC State coach Sidney Lowe said.
“When you’ve been struggling as we’ve been, it’s more frustrating
because I know the guys want it so bad and I’ve said it all year:
we’ll lose a tough game and the next day the guys will come back in
practice and they won’t let anything get them down.
“I’m glad that something good happened for them with all the
work they’ve put in and the positive attitude they’re keeping. I’m
glad to see that those shots went down.”
N.C. State hadn’t won an ACC game since its upset of Duke on
Jan. 20. Six of its seven league losses since had come by at least
nine points with two against struggling rival North Carolina, which
has just three league victories.
The only streak worth talking about after this game was the
Wolfpack’s five straight wins against the Demon Deacons (18-7, 8-5)
“Definitely you get tired of losing,” said senior Dennis
Horner, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds. “This puts us on a path
to finish the ACC season and hopefully we can get a streak going of
wins now that will lead us into the ACC tournament.”
Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 points and 14 rebounds for Wake Forest,
which had a miserable afternoon from the tip. The Demon Deacons
hadn’t lost in nearly three weeks before blowing an 11-point lead
at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night, then shot just 35 percent and
went 0 of 12 from 3-point range while committing 23 turnovers
Their first-half numbers were even more abysmal: the Demon
Deacons had twice as many turnovers (15) as field goals (7) and
shot 26 percent.
“I thought they came out and set a certain tone for the game
and I don’t think we adjusted to the way the game was being
played,” Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. “I thought we were
getting the right shots from the right guys. I just though we
turned it over too much.”
The game marked the first time the Demon Deacons hadn’t hit a
3-pointer since beating Tulane in February 1992, ending a streak of
575 straight games. For N.C. State, it marked the first time an
opponent didn’t make a 3 since Maryland failed to do it in a
Wolfpack win in January 1990, a streak of 633 games.
Wake Forest’s C.J. Harris, who came in averaging about 10 points
per game, went scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting, while fellow freshman
Ari Stewart – who had a team-high 32 3s – went 0-for-4 from behind
“They played tenacious defense and they were locked on,”
Stewart said. “They knew that C.J. and I, they knew that both of
us are pretty good 3-point shooters, so they played with some
urgency. When we got the ball, they smothered us so we couldn’t get
our shots up.”
N.C. State shot just 40 percent, but came through at the right
Clinging to a 48-41 lead, Degand took a feed from Horner and
knocked down a straightaway 3 to push the margin to 10. Then, after
a stop, Gonzalez knocked down a 3 from almost the same spot to make
Degand came through again, answering a jumper from L.D. Williams
with the team’s third straight 3 to give the Wolfpack a 57-43 lead
with 4:07 left and send the home crowd into a roar. Wake Forest got
no closer than 10 points from there.
In addition, sophomore C.J. Williams finished with 12 points and
knocked down two 3-pointers in the second half after going just 2
of 17 from behind the arc since mid-December.
“I felt as if that was the dagger that put the game away
basically for us,” Degand said of the three 3s. “Everybody
contributed to that, came through in the clutch and did a really