Brown, Pack Hold Off Scrappy Camels, 87-81
Dec. 29, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. – After more than 32 minutes of a hard-fought stalemate, NC State pulled away from Campbell, 87-81, on Thursday night at sold-out Reynolds Coliseum, in a game that featured three second-half technicals and more ties than a menswear outlet.
The Wolfpack (9-4) took charge, thanks to its defense and transition play of guards Lorenzo Brown and Alex Johnson, who got their team moving and slowly sapped the energy from the Camels. State was also near perfect from the free-throw line, hitting 28 of 31 attempts in the game.
“This was a tough game, just like we knew it would be,” said first-year head coach Mark Gottfried. “But we played really well during a couple of stretches when we needed to.”
Sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown put up gaudy numbers in the fast-paced contest, scoring a career-high 24 points, doling out eight assists and grabbing eight rebounds. Brown set his previous high of 21 points against Elon, in a game that was also played at Reynolds Coliseum, the long-time home of the men’s program before it moved to the RBC Center in 1999.
Junior Richard Howell had his second consecutive double-double (his third of the season) with 17 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. That clipped Howell’s previous high of 15, posted in the Pack’s season-opening victory over UNC Asheville.
“Lorenzo Brown was terrific tonight,” Gottfried said. “And Richard’s rebounding was sensational.
“And we needed every bit of it, because Campbell is a good team. We thought they would be when we scheduled them, and they proved it tonight.”
Wood also added 16 points, including four 3-pointers, while Leslie had 10 for State.
Campbell was led by Darren White, who had a game-high 25 points, thanks to a 9-for-11 shooting night that included a trio of 3-pointers. Merthie added 15 points and Griffin had 14.
The final score doesn’t hint at the game’s 15 ties and dozen lead changes in the first 30 minutes. Campbell (8-6) stayed close during that time with strong play from forward Eric Griffin and uncanny outside shooting, including 9-for-14 shooting from 3-point range.
The Wolfpack gained the advantage in a two-for-one exchange of technical fouls. Griffin was hit with the first, with 15:05 remaining, for chirping at an official after a Lorenzo Brown missed free throw attempt.
Scott Wood hit both shots and Brown hit his second, giving the Pack a 54-52 lead. It wasn’t until Campbell’s second technical, on head coach Robbie Laing, that the Wolfpack took full control.
Wood, who hasn’t missed a foul shot this season, hit both, giving his team a 62-56 advantage. That didn’t last long, however, as Wolfpack senior C.J. Williams was also hit with a technical for contact in the backcourt. Campbell’s Lorne Merthie made only one of his two shots.
The Wolfpack stretched its lead on a putback by Howell and two free throws by Leslie, giving the Pack its largest lead of the game to that point, 66-59, with a little less than 10 minutes to play.
With Williams playing hands-on defense to create fast breaks, Brown and Johnson then scored in transition on the Wolfpack’s next four possessions and State gradually built its lead to as much as 14 points. The Camels continued to hit outlandish outside shots and drew within six points in the final minute, but the Wolfpack held on for its third consecutive victory.
The first half was intense at the old arena. The Wolfpack doubled the Camels in rebounding (20-10), made every free throw it attempted (13-for-13) and got strong inside play from Howell and Leslie.
Howell scored 12 points in the opening half, while Brown added 11. But the Wolfpack was hampered by eight first-half turnovers, including three on consecutive possessions that allowed Campbell to take as much as a five-point lead.
Campbell was tenacious, hitting six of its eight 3-point attempts and making 53.6 percent of its field goals. The two teams went to the locker rooms a little battered and bruised, and tied 41-41.
The Wolfpack returns to action for its final game of 2011 on Saturday at the RBC Center, hosting Western Carolina in a 2 p.m., New Year’s Eve contest.