SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — No. 17 North Carolina State left coach Kevin Keatts with a hoarse voice Saturday.
A strong finish against the pesky Fighting Irish was the only medicine Keatts needed.
C.J. Bryce hit key free throws en route to 23 points, and the Wolfpack withstood several second-half challenges from Notre Dame in a 77-73 victory.
“Excuse my voice — I’m glad to get out of here with a win,” Keatts joked after N.C. State (15-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) used four free throws from Devon Daniels in the final 32 seconds to hold off the Fighting Irish (11-7, 1-4). “I thought we finished the game.”
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That wasn’t the case last Tuesday, when NC State fell way behind Wake Forest, tied it with about six minutes left in the second half and still lost, 71-67.
“When we got down 22 against Wake and stormed back, we did not finish the game,” Keatts said. “Give Devon a lot of credit — he made four really good free throws at the end. (The Fighting Irish) are tough. We knew coming in we had to defend all five positions. We knew coming in we had to defend the 3-point line.”
T.J. Gibbs made three free throws and fed John Mooney for a dunk to pull the Irish within 75-73 with 12.3 seconds left. But Daniels made his final two free throws, and the Wolfpack prevailed.
Bryce hit 9 of 14 shots, including all five of his 3-point attempts. Torin Dorn had 13 points with nine rebounds, and Derek Funderburk added 11 points.
Mooney had his ACC-leading 10th double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds, and freshman Dane Goodwin tied his career-high with 19 points – 17 in the second half on 7-of-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. Gibbs had 13 points and D.J. Harvey added 10 for the Irish, who made just 7 of 28 3-pointers (25 percent) and shot 24 of 59 from the field (40.7 percent).
“To beat one of the better teams in this league, we’re going to have to shoot better than 40 percent,” Brey said. “(The Wolfpack) are really gifted offensively, and they beat us up in the paint. We battled, but they were men and we’re a little young.”
NC State: The Wolfpack set season lows in field-goal percentage (37 percent) and 3-point shooting (20.7 percent) in the 71-67 loss at Wake Forest. They beat the Irish with 43.5 percent shooting, including 36.8 percent from deep, including the 5-for-5 effort by Bryce, who also played for Keatts at UNC Wilmington.
“I’ve been waiting on (Bryce),” Keatts said. “That’s the guy who played well (at UNC Wilmington) when he played for me. This was, by far, his best game in an NC State uniform.”
Notre Dame: Fighting Irish again endured scoring droughts at inopportune times — going 2:31 while hitting 2 of 12 in the first half, then pulling within one with 8:26 to play and going more than three minutes without a field goal.
As Winter Storm Harper chilled the area, the less-than-capacity crowd at the Purcell Pavilion celebrated by wearing Hawaiian shirts and leis. One enterprising student even brought a surfboard to the game.
NC State: At Louisville on Thursday.
Notre Dame: At Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
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