TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Just when it looked as if North Carolina State was about to blow a 19-point lead at Florida State, the Wolfpack’s two leading scorers came to the rescue.
Trevor Lacey scored 17 points, including five in the final 1:22, and Ralston Turner finished with 15 as NC State held off a Florida State second-half rally to escape with a 72-63 victory Saturday.
Lacey sank two free throws with 1:22 left to give his team a 67-63 lead and his jumper with 31 seconds left boosted the Wolfpack to a 69-63 lead.
”Those guys answer the bell most times,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried ”They’ve stepped up most every night.”
Saturday was no different.
The Wolfpack (13-6, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) led by as many as 19 on the way to a 42-30 halftime lead, but Florida State caught up at 60 on Brandon Allen’s tip-in with four minutes left.
Allen, a little-used former minor league baseball player whose dad starred at Florida State in the 1980s, followed Phil Cofer’s miss, but NC State’s Turner hit a trey from the corner to get the `Pack back into the lead at 63-60 and NC State had the lead for good.
”We were able to make one more push,” Gottfried said. ”I was proud of our guys at the end. We answered a run.”
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton had nothing but praises for the Wolfpack, especially veteran guards Lacey and Turner.
”Those guys make shots that most coaches don’t let their guys shoot,” Hamilton said. ”We got beat by a team that is very talented.”
Montay Brandon scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half to spark Florida State’s comeback. Xavier Rathan-Mayes added 15 points and Devon Bookert 11 for the Seminoles (9-9, 1-4 ACC). Brandon also had a game-high nine rebounds.
Taking advantage of their inside game, the Wolfpack built a 34-15 lead en route to their 12-point advantage at the half, shooting 56.3 percent while Florida State shot a 39.1 percent before the break. NC State outscored Florida State 18-4 in the paint in the first half.
Lacey, the Wolpack’s leading scorer on the season, hit 3 of 4 3-point tries and led the way with 11 first-half points for NC State.
Bookert was perfect on three long range attempts in the opening half to lead the Seminoles with nine points. But NC held him to a single basket in the second half when Bookert missed four attempts from 3-point distance. NC State was without the services of sophomore point guard Anthony ”Cat” Barber, who remained home because of a death in his family.
Florida State: Coach Leonard Hamilton went into Saturday’s game looking for his 100th career ACC victory and 229th at Florida State which would have tied him with Hugh Durham as the school’s winningest coach. Durham was in attendance along with former Seminoles for the school’s annual basketball reunion. Former FSU and Boston Celtic great Dave Cowens was among dozens of players who returned.
NC State: The Wolfpack had played ranked opponents – Virginia, Duke and North Carolina – in its previous three games. NC State defeated Duke and lost to North Carolina by a basket.
NC State came into the game ranked fourth in the ACC in 3-point shooting with an accuracy mark of 37.6 percent. Senior Ralston Turner led the way with a 41 percent mark from long distance.
Florida State entered the game ranked 14th in 3-point shooting percentage and last in defending the 3-point shot.
Florida State plays at Clemson on Monday.
North Carolina State plays Thursday at Miami.