On a day where N.C State basketball got the good news it wanted in regards to Braxton Beverly’s eligibility, the Wolfpack’s game against Bryant started in the opposite mood.
The Bulldogs jumped to an eight-point lead, causing NC State coach Kevin Keatts to call a timeout after just two minutes, 10 seconds of play.
Even though Bryant’s perfect shooting over the game’s first nine minutes pushed its lead as large as 12 points, the new pressure defense Keatts employs finally took its toll on the plucky underdog.
The Wolfpack erased the deficit, built a 10-point halftime lead and cruised to a 95-72 nonconference win at PNC Arena.
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Bryant made its first nine shots and led 19-7 before the Wolfpack used a 16-2 to take their first lead.
Torin Dorn paced the Wolfpack (3-0) with 26 points, while Lennard Freeman added a career-high 20 points and Allerik Freeman had 15 points. Guard Markell Johnson had 10 points and 11 assists.
Beverly, a freshman guard, was not in uniform for N.C. State’s first two games this season because the NCAA ruled he was an undergraduate transfer and had to sit out this season. Beverly enrolled at Ohio State for summer classes last May before leaving the school for N.C. State after the Buckeyes fired coach Thad Matta in June.
But on Tuesday afternoon, the NCAA reversed its decision and declared Beverly immediately eligible. He entered the game with 13:51 remaining in the first half and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
The crowd cheered even louder with 10:40 remaining when Beverly deflected a pass leading to a Bryant backcourt turnover. He received a pass from Markell Johnson and converted a reverse layup to tie the score at 21.
Bryant continued to hang tough, with Ikenna Ndugba scoring with 5:22 left in the half to tie the score at 33. But Allerik Freeman and Darius Hicks scored baskets to give N.C. State the lead for good. The Wolfpack closed the half on a 17-7 to lead 50-40 at intermission.
When Dorn slammed home two points with 9:49 to play, the Wolfpack had extended its lead to 70-50.