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.