Pirates Fall to N.C. State, 87-76
Dec. 17, 2008
By AARON BEARD (AP Sports Writer)
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Brandon Costner had 24 points and 17 rebounds while Ben McCauley added 20 points to help the Wolfpack hold off East Carolina 87-76 on Wednesday night, avenging last year's road loss to the Pirates that seemed to send N.C. State down the wrong path in what became a disastrous season.
Tracy Smith added 11 points for the Wolfpack (6-1), who used Javi Gonzalez's running heave from beyond halfcourt just before halftime to start a game-turning 18-2 spurt. N.C. State shot 52 percent and led by as many as 16 points in the second half before holding off a late rally to avenge last year's 75-69 loss in Greenville.
Costner said that loss - the first in 18 meetings and East Carolina's first win in 58 tries against an Atlantic Coast Conference program - robbed N.C. State of confidence. The Wolfpack went on to finish last in the ACC after starting the season in the national rankings.
This time, the Wolfpack could take positives from the matchup - namely weathering a one-man show from Brock Young despite playing without injured senior Courtney Fells.
Young finished with a career-high 25 points, including a run of 15 straight in the second half, for the Pirates (8-2), who got as close as four points in the final 3 minutes. Sam Hinnant, who had 30 points in last year's win, added 18 points, but N.C. State hung on with a clutch performance at the foul line late to seal it.
Ultimately, the Pirates never could contain Costner and McCauley inside.
Costner went 8-for-14 from the field and 3-for-7 from 3-point range in 28 minutes. He hit his first four shots and scoring 13 points in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game.
Making matters worse for the Pirates, three players fouled out in the second half - primarily due to the play of Costner and McCauley inside.
"We had to stay out of foul trouble and we didn't," East Carolina coach Mack McCarthy said. "When we went small, we had a plan for that. We were pretty good offensively. But we weren't very good defensively and when we managed to get a stop, we couldn't then get the rebound."
Young, a 5-foot-11 sophomore also had seven rebounds, six assists and two steals in 38 minutes despite losing some teeth after taking an elbow in the second half. He repeatedly blew by Gonzalez and other Wolfpack defenders in the open court or to get into the lane all night, and his spinning shot in the paint tied it at 42-all with about 3 seconds left in the first half.
But Gonzalez took the inbound pass and heaved a shot from near the edge of the midcourt logo. The shot banked in for the 45-42 lead and officials reviewed it to make sure Gonzalez got the shot up before the horn.
Once the second half started, N.C. State hit its first four shots to push ahead and eventually take a 60-44 lead on a jumper from McCauley with 13:27 to play. That lead held up, but not before Young started a comeback with his 15-point run - including a pair of three-point plays and an impressive hanging layup over Dennis Horner.
The Pirates got as close as 78-74 on a layup from Hinnant with 3:17 left and had a chance to inch closer after forcing a turnover, but Young missed a driving shot on the ensuing possession and McCauley added two free throws at the other end to push the margin back to six points.
Then, after two more empty possessions from the Pirates, Farnold Degand hit two more free throws to increase the lead to 82-74, part of the Wolfpack's 7-for-8 performance at the foul line in the final 68 seconds to clinch the game.
Young was unavailable for comment afterward because he was seeking treatment for his mouth injury.