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January 9, 2012
NC State finally found a way to defeat Maryland.
NCSU sophomore power forward C.J. Leslie had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and junior small forward Scott Wood added 19, including several big free throws to clinch a 79-74 win in front of 18,057 at the RBC Center.
The Terrapins had won the previous nine games, but with both programs going through coaching changes in the offseason, the Wolfpack figured this would be the year to snap the streak. Maryland had lost star sophomore center Jordan Williams to the pros, and played for most of the non-conference schedule without two starters, but still entered Sunday's game on a seven-game winning streak.
The NC State players had been locked in during practice the last several days and were glad to get the Maryland streak off their backs.
"It's nice, that is for sure," said Wood about snapping the Terrapins' streak. "I know I haven't beat them. They are definitely a lot different and don't run that flex offense anymore, but at the same, they have really good players still and are well-coached. They'll be a good team.
"This was big just to get a little momentum. We were able to get our feet wet."
NC State last topped Maryland 62-58 on Feb. 5, 2006, well before any of the current players were in the program. Both coaches from that game, Herb Sendek of NCSU and Gary Williams of Maryland, have moved on or retired respectively. New coaches Mark Gottfried of the Wolfpack and Mark Turgeon of the Terrapins will spur on the next chapter of the rivalry.
"We've lost to Maryland nine straight times, so we get to change the course of your path, so we like that a lot," Gottfried said. "I thought a lot of guys did key things at different times.
"I thought Calvin [Leslie] was good at certain times around the rim. If we can keep him around the basket, he's just a difficult player to guard."
NC State had been on a mini-roll of its own entering ACC play. The Wolfpack (12-4 overall) extended their winning streak to six games, with Georgia Tech coming to the RBC Center on Wednesday. Starting off 1-0 in the league was a big goal for the players.
"This was big because we heard they had won nine times over us in ACC play," said NC State junior center Richard Howell, who had 10 points and four rebounds. "We wanted to come out and change that, and that is exactly what we did."
Maryland hung around for most of the second half, but NC State made its move over the final 8 1/2 minutes. Junior backup center DeShawn Painter scored five straight points to spark an 11-0 run to help NC State surge to a 67-53 lead with 4:58 left in the game.
Senior wing C.J. Williams was quiet due to foul trouble, but he made a big corner three-pointer, and then the Wolfpack's length took over on the offensive boards. Leslie skied in for a rebound and basket, followed by sophomore point guard Lorenzo Brown sneaking in for another putback.
Brown flirted with a triple-double with 11 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, plus only one turnover. Brown said the squad ran their plays correctly during the 11-0 run, and that was the difference.
"Once we run our plays the correct way, I don't think anybody can stop it," Brown said.
The athleticism of Leslie and the NC State players proved to be a tough matchup for the undersized Terrapins. NCSU outscored Maryland 38-28 in the paint.
"I feel like C.J. [Leslie] can get to the rim no matter whoever is guarding [him]," Howell said. "He is too quick for anybody to stay in front of him. I think he showed that tonight."
Turgeon also was impressed by the impact Leslie made.
"I was disappointed in our defense on Leslie," Turgeon said. "In the first half, I thought we were scared of the kid to be quite honest to you. We challenged a couple of guys at halftime, and they did a much better job in the second half on him.
"I thought their big guys dominated our big guys for the most part."
Maryland sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin poured in 25 points and went 6 of 12 from three-point range, but Gottfried was encouraged that his defense made the lefty gunner earn every basket.
"He's so quick and he's strong," Gottfried said. "He gets into the paint and he uses his body and initiates the contact, where it's really hard to defend without fouling him."
Junior wing Sean Mosley added 12 points and freshman center Alex Len had 12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Len scored six easy points inside down the stretch for the Terrapins, who finally ran out of hope after Williams sank two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to give the Wolfpack a 79-74 lead.
Turgeon said transition defense was one area of concern.
"I was really proud of our group," Turgeon said. "I thought they had a great crowd. They took a lot of shots, [and] they made a lot of tough shots. They made scoring look easy. We kept competing."
Gottfried expects the win over the Terrapins to look even better in the future, especially as Len continues to progress inside.
"When we get to February, we are going to see Maryland as a really good basketball team," Gottfried said. "I love [Len], he's going to be really good. He's going to be a great player, and to get a guy like that in the midst of a coaching change [with] Mark, that's a heck of a get. This was just his fourth game, wow."
Turgeon said some of the players are still learning to be mentally tougher.
"It's all between the ears, but we are getting there," Turgeon said. "We made some big mistakes defensively. We don't practice hard every day. I'm on them."
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