Simmons, Grant Pace Pack's 73-57 Win Over Delaware
Nov. 20, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Gavin Grant and Cedric Simmons each scored a career-high 22 points and North Carolina State used a huge advantage in free throws to beat Delaware 73-57 Sunday in the Hispanic College Fund Classic.
With the Blue Hens (2-1) in foul trouble almost from the start, the Wolfpack (3-0) continually looked to take the ball to the basket. Grant finished 10-for-13 at the line and Simmons was 10-for-12, helping N.C. State convert 30-for-39 for the game.
"I think they were just committed to taking away the three," said Pack coach Herb Sendek. "It really did open up things inside for us. Obviously, Cedric, Gavin and Andrew (Brackman), those three guys in particular did some good work inside."
Delaware guard Herb Courtney fouled out and five of his teammates had four fouls. Harding Nana had 14 points and 16 rebounds in the losing effort.
Still, this easily was the most competitive of the three games played by the Wolfpack in the round-robin event. They scored 91 points in the first two, with a 30-point victory over Stetson the smallest margin. But the Blue Hens, who are expected to challenge in the Colonial Athletic Association, fought back from a 16-point deficit in the second half and eventually got within eight on layup by Zaire Taylor.
"It's really hard to advance and get better unless you're in some tough games," Sendek said. "We played a good basketball team today. I really thought watching them the first two nights that they could be an NCAA Tournament caliber team. They're a very tough-minded team."
It was 55-47 a few minutes later when Simmons made a pair of free throws, before Sendek implored 7,381 fans in attendance to get to their feet. Normally a bit more reserved, he waved his arms and emphatically yelled for some noise, and his efforts appeared to spark the crowd and his team.
After Courtney missed a dunk on the other end, Grant swished a jumper and Tony Bethel made the most of a nifty assist from Simmons for a backdoor layup. Suddenly, it was 61-47, and Delaware never threatened again.
Grant was named the MVP of the tournament following an inspired effort. He averaged 13.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists while helping the Wolfpack control the pace in each game.
"He keeps getting better and better," Sendek said of Grant. "He's just a sophomore, but it's amazing what that year under your belt can do. I think he's really playing big right now. He's rebounding the basketball, he's making big plays on the break for us and he got a lot of tough baskets in the post."
And while Sendek surely would have enjoyed an easier finale, he did watch his team win in different ways over the weekend. N.C. State hit 23 3-pointers in the first two victories against mostly zone defenses, but when the Blue Hens came out in an aggressive man-to-man, the style changed.
The Wolfpack went to Simmons on three of the first four possessions, and the burly 6-foot-9 center delivered with six points in the opening 2 minutes. One of those was a powerful dunk after Grant fed him perfectly under the basket. After the break, the pattern continued, with Simmons providing the first four points of the second half.
Bethel punctuated the gritty effort with a dunk of his own, when the 6-1 guard drove past Rulon Washington and leaped over the 6-3 Calvin Cannon to jam the ball through the hoop.