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December 29, 2009

Early Run Powers Pack Past Winthrop

It truly was a team effort for NC State in its 68-52 win in front of 13,233 fans at The RBC Center on Tuesday.

The Pack (9-3) led the entire game as Dennis Horner paced the Red and White with 12 points. Four of the five starters scored at least eight points and the bench chipped in another 24.

NC State started on a torrid pace, scoring 30 points in the first 11 minutes of play, thanks in large part to an early trio of Scott Wood three-pointers. The Wolfpack defense held the Eagles under 10 points during the same period of time.

"I thought we came out with good energy and really set the tone with our defense at the beginning," NCSU coach Sidney Lowe said. "We got some stops and put the pressure on them."

The Pack's lead swelled to 23 points and the defense did not let up. The Eagles were held to a 31.7 field-goal percentage for the game. Winthrop began to chip away at the NC State lead, thanks to a 16-2 run fueled by Robbie Dreher, who scored 12 of his team's points during the Eagles' six-minute surge.

After the Pack's lead dipped back to single digits, but a Javier Gonzalez three-pointer got his team back on track to regain a 12-point lead before the half, 41-29. NC State converted on 8 of 14 shots from behind the arc in the first half, thanks to Wood and a pair of long balls from both Horner and fifth-year senior Farnold Degand.

Following the break, neither team could find an offensive rhythm. The two teams combined for only one field goal in the first five minutes of the second half. The Eagles continued to chip away at the Pack lead, getting it down to eight points midway through the second half, before a C.J. Williams jumper put the home team up by 10 points. NC State didn't look back.

NC State proceeded to go on a 13-4 run to put the game out of reac,h and Lowe said he was pleased with how his team closed down the game.

Richard Howell led all bench players with 11 points and seven rebounds in his most impressive showing of the season. He dumped in nine second-half points to guide the NC State offense back on track following the break.

Gonzalez posted a career-high 10 rebounds, to go along with eight points and four assists. Junior center Tracy Smith chipped in nine points and six boards in his first game back from a one-game suspension, despite facing constant double teams. The Pack gave up 14 turnovers and could only muster a 6 of 15 showing from the free-throw line, but shot 49.1 percent from the field and 47.6 from behind the arc.

The Wolfpack are back in action against North Carolina Greensboro at 6 p.m. Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.


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