RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — After picking up his first Atlantic Coast Conference victory, coach Mark Gottfried didn’t shy away from his North Carolina State team’s goal of 10 more.
C.J. Leslie had 20 points and 11 rebounds and N.C. State held on to beat Maryland 79-74 on Sunday night in their league opener.
Scott Wood scored 19 points and Lorenzo Brown added 11 for the Wolfpack (12-4, 1-0), who hit 47.5 percent of their shots — 28 of 59 — and were 21 of 24 from the free-throw line to win their sixth straight and snap the Terrapins’ seven-game winning streak.
Gottfried became just the second N.C. State coach — and first since Les Robinson in 1991 — to win his first ACC game, and the surging Wolfpack have won seven of eight with the lone loss in that stretch coming to No. 1 Syracuse.
“It’s big, especially just to get a little bit of momentum and kind of get your feet wet for some people,” Wood said.
A few days earlier, the Wolfpack players weren’t shy about saying they figured they needed 11 ACC wins — a total they said came straight from the coaching staff — to put themselves in position for the school’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2006.
“I’m not going to hide from my dreams or (that) that’s our goals. I’m not afraid of it. I’m not afraid to say it,” Gottfried said. “I’ve also said it’s a tall order for our team. It’s a tall order, now. Let’s be real honest. But we scheduled the way we scheduled and will every year, because that’s the goal.
“I didn’t come here to play here in anything other than the NCAA tournament,” he added. “Now, whether we can get there or not, that’s a whole other story.”
Terrell Stoglin scored 25 points — he entered averaging an ACC-best 21 — but the Terrapins (10-4, 0-1) dropped new coach Mark Turgeon’s first ACC game.
The Terps were 26 of 60 for 43.3 percent shooting. They made up for 15 turnovers by hitting nine of their 21 attempts from 3-point range — but none in the final 13 1/2 minutes until Stoglin swished one with 3.6 seconds left to make it 77-74.
C.J. Williams made two free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining to ice it for N.C. State, which led the entire second half — never by fewer than three points — but couldn’t push its lead out of single
digits until late.
“We got up eight, and they kind of came back. And we’d get up nine, and they’d come back,” Gottfried said. “But we would continue to keep pushing ahead, and we never let the table get turned all the way to where they took a lead. This team, I think they really, really want to win. They really do. We’ve just got to keep trying to get better.”
Leslie’s three-point play during an 11-0 run gave the Wolfpack their first double-figure lead, 65-53, with 6:03 remaining. Brown’s stickback of Richard Howell’s missed jumper one minute later capped the burst and made it 67-53.
“As a team, we really grew up tonight,” Turgeon said. “We haven’t played that well, and we grew up. We just had that one stretch, which we always have. It’s just toughness, mental toughness, and physical toughness, and just competing and wanting it more than your opponent. We didn’t have that during that
stretch, and that was the whole difference in the game. That’s what we hope to get changed, soon.”
Maryland then reeled off nine straight points, pulling within 67-62 on Alex Len’s layup with under 2 minutes remaining. Wood countered with a fadeaway jumper — N.C. State’s first field goal since Brown’s putback — to make it a seven-point game with 1:30 left.
Howell finished with 10 points for N.C. State, which ended a nine-game losing streak in the series and denied the Terps their first eight-game winning streak since 2006-07.
Len had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Sean Mosley added 12 points for Maryland.
This matchup lost a bit of juice with the offseason retirement of ex-Maryland coach Gary Williams. During the press conference last April that introduced Gottfried as coach, N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow — who spent 16 years as Maryland’s AD — was asked whether she had a reputation for being difficult to work with and she responded by saying Williams “tried to sabotage the search” at N.C. State.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)