Pack pulls away from Penn State in second half to win, 89-78

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - The NC State men’s basketball team pulled away from Penn State in the final 10 minutes of the game Saturday afternoon to defeat the Nittany Lions, 89-78, at Boardwalk Hall.

With the win NC State improves to 9-1 on the season and is off to the best start for a Pack team since the 2005-06 squad started the season with a 12-1 record.

The Pack led for the majority of the game, but found itself in a 58-58 tie with 11:47 to play after two Penn State free throws. On its next possession, CJ Bryce hit one free throw, missed the second, but DJ Funderburk pulled the rebound down and laid the ball back in the basket to give NC State a three-point lead. The Pack got a stop on defense and then Funderburk hit a three-pointer on the next trip down to double NC State’s lead to six. After a couple of empty possessions for both teams, Penn State finally ended its three-minute scoring drought with a lay-up to cut the deficit to four, 64-60, with 8:58 to go.

NC State’s lead was 68-64 with 7:35 to go when the Pack clinched the game with an 12-0 run. NC State scored on six consecutive possessions during the run while the Nittany Lions had seven consecutive empty possessions. Beverly hit a three-pointer to give the Pack its first double-digit lead of the game at 12, 76-64, with 4:56 to go and on NC State’s next possession Beverly had an old-fashion three-point play to give the Pack a 15 point lead, 79-64, with 4:17 to play.

Penn State would cut the lead to nine with 23 seconds to play, but two Bryce free throws closed the scoring.

Beverly led five NC State players in double figures with a season-high 18 points. Dorn (15 points), Bryce (13 points), Markell Johnson (13 points), Funderburk (12 points) also reached double figures for the Pack. Wyatt Walker added nine points and a season-best eight rebounds.

NC State finished the game shooting a season-best 60.7 percent from the field. The Pack’s starting lineup of Beverly, Brice, Daniels, Dorn and Walker combined to shoot 24-of-38 (63.2%) from the field. The Nittany Lions shot 36.7 percent from the field in the second half and finished the game shooting 42.2 percent from the field.

The Pack outrebounded Penn State, 40-29, and has not outrebounded its opponent in eight of 10 games.

NC State took a three-point lead into halftime, 40-37, after shooting 53.1 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Penn State jumped out to a 7-2 lead less than three minutes into the game, but the Pack responded with an 11-2 run to take the lead. Dorn’s jumper at the 14:06 mark gave NC State its first lead of the game, 11-9, and NC State would lead the rest of the first half.

NC State returns to action Wednesday, Dec. 19 when it hosts eighth-ranked Auburn at 7 pm. The game will be televised on ESPN2.