Returning to the court for the first time in 14 days showed during a long second-half drought, as NC State saw a halftime lead slip away dropping their first contest of the season 80-69 to Saint Louis on the road Thursday night.
NC State falls to 3-1 on the year while SLU continues their unbeaten start at 6-0.
In a tale of two halves, SLU shot 45% from the floor for the game, including 60% in the final stanza. The Wolfpack finished 37% from the floor – going 4-18 from beyond the arc. Sophomore Manny Bates turned in a career night stuffing the stat sheet with a career-high 20 points,7 rebounds, and 7 blocks. Senior guard Devon Daniels followed with 15 points while fellow senior guard Braxton Beverly chipped in 13 points. Javonte Perkins paced SLU with 20 points leading three Bilikins in double figures.
The game opened with runs from both squads. SLU scored the first four points of the contest aided by a few offensive rebounds before NC State settled in to score the next six, taking a 6-4 lead at the first media timeout. Neither team hit many shots as both teams opened up 5-25 in the first six minutes.
The Wolfpack, who played their first game in two weeks, finally got into a groove opening up a 19-10 lead – forcing an SLU timeout with 8:04 remaining in the half. NC State maintained its lead at 25-19 at the final break of the half. State responded to push their lead back up to 9 at 30-21. Junior guard Thomas Allen’s second three gave NC State a 10 point lead at 35-25. SLU closed out the half on a 4-0 run, including a layup at the buzzer cutting the Wolfpack lead to 35-29 at the half. Neither team displayed an offensive showcase, shooting 41% (13-32 NCSU) and 31% (9-29 SLU) respectively.
SLU opened the second half with a basket, trimming the NC State lead to four early before cutting the Wolfpack lead to just one at 39-38. Things remained tight as NC State held a slim 46-44 lead at the 14:47 mark. Braxton Beverly added a few key three-point baskets, none bigger than his three with 13:29 left to extend the State lead to 49-45 after an SLU three rimmed out with the chance to take their first lead since 4-2 early in the game.
The Wolfpack offense went into a drought allowing SLU to again cut the NC State lead to two at 55-53 with 9:11 left in the game. The Billiken offense kept the run going, getting their first lead of the half at 57-56 with 8:11 on the clock. SLU opened up a five-point lead at 63-58 forcing Kevin Keatts to call a timeout with 6:24 left in regulation.
SLU expanded its lead to 69-60 with an 11-2 run with 3:54 left. The Wolfpack’s limited roster, on top of playing for the first time in two weeks showed to close the half as SLU’s lead grew to as many as 15 before closing out the game with a 80-69 win.
NC State is scheduled to return to action Saturday afternoon as they host Campbell. Tipoff is slated for 4 pm.