N.C. State survived its opening flurry of games unscathed but survived its first scare of the young season Thursday night.
Presbyterian handled the Wolfpack’s pressure defense early, building an eight-point halftime lead, but wilted in the second half as unbeaten N.C. State rolled to a 86-68 non-conference win at PNC Arena.
Five Wolfpack players scored in double figures with Lennard Freeman leading the way with 23 points. Torin Dorn added 18, Allerik Freeman scored 12, Omer Yurtseven 11 and Markell Johnson 10 as N.C. State (4-0) won for the fourth time in seven nights.
Trailing 44-36 at halftime, the Wolfpack stifled the Blue Hose’s offense early in the second half to climb back.
After committing just seven first-half turnovers, Presbyterian turned the ball over seven times in the first 6:20 minutes of the second half. The Blue Hose scored on just two of its first 12 possessions.
N.C. State cut Presbyterian’s lead to 49-47 when Lennard Freeman scored inside and added a free throw.
After the Blue Hose turned the ball over on its fifth consecutive possession, Allerik Freeman threw a half-court lob to Dorn, a play that would turn into a basket and a free-throw opportunity. Dorn hit the free throw to give N.C State a 51-49 lead with 13:35 left in the game. It was the Wolfpack’s first lead since 6:50 of the first half.
The Blue Hose tied the game one final time at 51 on a basket from senior guard Reggie Dillard at 13:08.
But Presbyterian was on its way to making just 3 of its first 10 shots of the second half and the Wolfpack unleashed a 10-0 run to take control.
Two Lennard Freeman free throws followed by a Dorn slam dunk in transition started the Wolfpack’s spurt. An Omer Yurtseven basket inside, followed by a Lavar Batts layup and an Allerik Freeman lay up, put N.C. State ahead 61-51 with 9:37 left.
Presbyterian cut N.C. State’s lead to four at 68-64 with 5:55 to play. But Lennard Freeman responded by rebounding Dorn’s missed 3-pointer to score, draw a foul and add a free throw for a 71-64 Wolfpack lead.
Unlike N.C. State’s first three opponents, Presbyterian didn’t find the Wolfpack’s pressing defense a problem.
Presbyterian found its way into the lane for easy shots early. When N.C. State clamped down to cut off the driving lanes, the Blue Hose heated up from behind the 3-point line.
Presbyterian made 18 of 30 first-half shots overall (60 percent) while making 5 of 10 3-pointers. Presbyterian sophomore guard J.C. Younger scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes while Dillard added 10 points. Each hit a pair of 3-pointers.
N.C. State led for all but a few seconds of the game’s first 13 minutes, building a 28-21 lead when Dorn scored inside with 8:54 left until halftime.
But the Wolfpack missed their next five shots, going 7:05 between made field goals.
That allowed Presbyterian to score 23 of the half’s final 31 points to turn a seven-point deficit into an eight-point halftime lead.