Wolf­pack has lit­tle trou­ble with Mary­land East­ern Shore

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JONAS POPE IV jpope@her­ald­sun.com

How dom­i­nant was N.C. State’s per­for­mance against Mary­land East­ern Shore? The Wolf­pack didn’t need all five play­ers to jump out to a 36-point lead over the MEAC school in the first half on Satur­day at PNC Arena.

At in­ter­mis­sion N.C. State se­nior Torin Dorn had more points (17) than the Hawks (15). MDES had two more re­bounds (10-8) than the 6-5 Dorn, but that was about all that went its way as the Wolf­pack im­proved to 2-0 with a 95-49 win.

“Some­body told me at half­time, I didn’t re­al­ize it though,” Dorn said about his first half feat. “I just play and stay in the mo­ment. My shot was fall­ing, I was able to get on the of­fen­sive glass and get a cou­ple of easy ones.”

N.C. State led 51-15 at the break, as nine dif­fer­ent play­ers scored in the open­ing 20 min­utes. Dorn had plenty of help in the win, in­clud­ing the re­turn of sopho­more guard Brax­ton Bev­erly, who saw his first ac­tion of the sea­son after re­turn­ing from hand surgery.

Bev­erly checked into the game to a stand­ing ova­tion at the 14:58 mark and his first made bas­ket of the sea­son was a 3-pointer that gave the Wolf­pack a 21-4 lead. Bev­erly, who broke a bone in his non-shoot­ing hand, knocked down two 3s in the first half and had six points at the break.

N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts used his en­tire bench in the game, and nine of the 10 play­ers avail­able scored in the first half. When Blake Har­ris scored on a layup early in the sec­ond half to give N.C. State a 63-24 lead, all healthy Wolf­pack play­ers had of­fi­cially con­trib­uted on of­fense. Keatts said he doesn’t plan on

us­ing the sub­sti­tu­tion pat­tern the rest of the year, but it was work­ing on Satur­day.

“I think it’s OK,” Keatts said. “It’s funny be­cause the group that game off the bench have been work­ing to­gether, they usu­ally are the scout team. To­day it worked out well. I don’t know if I plan on do­ing that all year long, but I do like the balance that we had on both groups. I think we have guys who can score, who can re­bound. We have guys who un­der­stand their roles in both groups. It was pretty good for us to­day”

N.C. State, which opened the sea­son with a 50-point win over Mount St. Mary’s on Tues­day, started the game on an 8-0 run, scor­ing three layups in a row, and took ad­van­tage of four turnovers by the Hawks (0-2) in the first five min­utes.

Keatts went with a new five at his first sub­sti­tu­tion and that group was led by red­shirt sopho­more D.J. Fun­der­burk, who scored five straight points, and fresh­man Jeri­cole Hellems, who was 1-for-2 from 3-point range in the open­ing half. The sec­ondyear coach went with the five-in, five-out sub­sti­tu­tion for ma­jor­ity of the first half un­til Devon Daniels picked up his third foul with less than two min­utes re­main­ing. Keatts had to break his pat­tern, but it didn’t seem to mat­ter much.

The Hawks didn’t do them­selves any fa­vors, turn­ing the ball over 10 times in the first 20 min­utes, which led to 14 points for N.C. State. The Wolf­pack forced 15 turnovers in the game.

In Tues­day’s open­ing game, N.C. State only forced eight turnovers. It forced that many by the 9:16 mark of the first half against the Hawks.

Dorn fin­ished with 22 to lead the Wolf­pack and 10 re­bounds, cool­ing down after the break. His first bas­ket in the sec­ond half came at the 18:35 mark – a 3 that gave him 20 points, while the Hawks had 17.

It was Dorn’s sec­ond con­sec­u­tive 20-point game, com­ing off a ca­reer-high 28 Tues­day night. It was the 12th game of his ca­reer with at least 20 points. Fun­der­burk and Hellems each added 13 for the Wolf­pack, while Bev­erly fin­ished with 12 in his re­turn.

A.J. Cheese­man led MDES with 18 points be­fore foul­ing out with 2:50 re­main­ing in the game. At that point, N.C. State held a 46-point lead. Keatts watched his team closely and with the game out of hand, had to find ways to chal­lenge his group and keep them locked in dur­ing the blowout.

“We talk about mind­set, get­ting bet­ter from prac­tice to prac­tice, game to game,” Keatts said. “At some point when you’re in a lop­sided game you start fo­cus­ing on your­self and we talked about what makes us bet­ter as a bas­ket­ball team, op­posed to who we are play­ing against.”

The Wolf­pack re­turn to ac­tion on Tues­day when it hosts UNC-Asheville at 7 p.m.

ETHAN HY­MAN ehy­man@new­sob­server.com

N.C. State’s Brax­ton Bev­erly, left, who made his sea­son de­but, steals the ball dur­ing the sec­ond half of the Wolf­pack’s win Satur­day.

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