It was the kind of basketball game in which neither team ever got much breathing room.
But at the end, N.C. State had just a little more left in the tank.
Trevor Lacey poured in a career-high 26 points and Ralston Turner added 23 as the Wolfpack remained unbeaten, topping Richmond 84-72 Wednesday night at PNC Arena.
The win improved the Wolfpack to 5-0 for the first time in Mark Gottfried’s tenure as coach. The Spiders fell to 2-2. N.C. State leads the all-time series 4-0.
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“That’s a good win for our club,” Gottfried said. “Richmond came in and played sensational basketball in the first half. In the second half, we said we were going to take some (defensive risks) and if we gave up some back-door cuts we’d live with it, but we we’re going to go get them.
“Trevor, in the first half and even in the second half a few times offensively was just phenomenal. In the second half he and Ralston kind of played off each other. They’re the older players and they’re playing with a bunch of young guys, and in the second half they kind of said, ‘It’s time.’”
Lacey’s previous career high was 23 points, during the 2012-13 when he was with Alabama.
“My jump shot was going, so I just shot it and it was going in,” Lacey said. “We needed those in the first half because we had trouble stopping them. I was just trying to stay aggressive and take advantage of the opportunities that I had.”
Kendall Anthony and T.J. Cline had 17 points apiece to lead the Spiders, who shot 72 percent in the first half. Terry Allen had 14.
N.C. State shot 50 percent for the game to Richmond’s 48.3, winning the rebound battle 38-24. N.C. State had just 10 turnovers to Richmond’s 11 in a game with 29 lead changes and eight ties.
“There was a really great pace to the game in the first half,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “Both teams were scoring well and had a lot of confidence so it was free and easy out there. But the bottom line is we didn’t defend them all night. We didn’t get enough stops.”
The Wolfpack didn’t take the lead for good until Kyle Washington’s jumper with 9 minutes, 16 seconds left made it 64-63. N.C. State led 70-66 after a Cline 3-pointer with 4:01 to play before an 8-0 run ending in a Cat Barber layup with 58 seconds left.
N.C. State led 45-44 at the half following Cody Martin’s tip-in at the buzzer.
Lacey led N.C. State at the break with 21 points, followed by 10 points from Turner. Allen and Cline had 11 each at the half for Richmond while Anthony had 10.
“That’s two straight close games we’ve had to win,” said Turner, whose team beat South Florida 68-65 Sunday. “But today we did a better job of finishing and that’s something we needed to do better.”
The Wolfpack’s next game will be at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Boise State.