Wolfpack belts Cavaliers, 75-56
The biggest hits N.C. State took on Friday were a couple of shots to Richard Howell’s right thigh.
Playing more like the team picked to finish first in the ACC regular season instead of the one that finished fifth, the Wolfpack dusted off fourth-seeded Virginia 75-56 behind the trio of Scott Wood, T.J. Warren and C.J. Leslie in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Avenging one of its regular-season losses, State (24-9) will try avenge another today when it faces Miami in the semifinals. The Hurricanes (25-6) turned back Boston College 69-58 earlier in the day.
Howell’s effectiveness could be a big question for the Wolfpack. After getting kneed in the right thigh by Cavalier forward Akil Mitchell on two straight possessions, Howell was clearly in pain. He went behind the bench for treatment and came back with the thigh wrapped. He returned, grimacing in pain while continuing to battle for rebounds, finishing with 12.
“I never experienced something so painful in my life,” Howell said. “It was like someone hit me with a baseball bat. It was definitely tough to play through but my team needed me and we got the ‘W.’ That is what I’m happy about.”
Howell said he didn’t feel Mitchell kneed him on purpose. His thigh was tightly wrapped as he sat in the Wolfpack locker room after the game.
“I’m feel good right now but when I was running on the court, my leg definitely hurt,” Howell said. “But the trainer will get me together and I will be OK.”
The injury came well after State had taken control. The Wolfpack started to take charge with a 10-2 run to go up 22-12 with six minutes to go in the first half. State led by nine at the half then 14 points on their first five possessions of the second half to go up 44-25 with 16:30 to play.
Wood anchored the spurt with three straight 3s that were part of hitting 7 of 12 shots, all from behind the arc, on the way to leading the Pack with 23 points. He also surpassed Rodney Monroe’s school record of 322 treys.
“Scott just took the game over,” State coach Mark Gottfried said.
Point guard Lorenzo Brown said he sometimes is in awe when Wood gets hot.
“I just stand back and watch,” Brown said. “I think he is going to make every shot.”
Wood tried to remain humble about his outburst.
“I never tell them to give me the ball,” Wood said. “But it gives you confidence when you’re knocking down your shot and you feel like the next one is going in. But my teammates did a good job of finding me and setting screens to get me open.”
While Wood was torching the Cavaliers from the perimeter, Leslie and Warren were scoring inside. Leslie finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Warren had 18 points.
Mitchell led Virginia with 19 points. Joe Harris, the Cavaliers’ first-team All-ACC selection, added 13 but hit just 4 of 13 shots as he was hounded by Wood and Brown.
Howell said defense will be the key as the Wolfpack will try to make amends for a 79-78 loss to Miami on a last-second tip on Feb. 2.
“We know we can score and get up and down the floor,” Howell said. “We feel if we can come out and shut them down, and that’s what we did today, we will be OK.”