N.C. State talked a lot about avoiding a letdown after an emotional win against North Carolina.
But that’s all it was, just talk. Boston College sliced up inert N.C. State for a 79-63 win Saturday at Conte Forum.
Usually a double-digit win by a last-place ACC team against one with NCAA tournament aspirations qualifies as a surprise, but this has been a 20-plus year pattern for N.C. State.
The Wolfpack (17-12, 8-8 ACC) hasn’t won its next ACC game after beating UNC since 1992, a streak that hit 10 games against the Eagles (10-18, 2-14).
“We had absolutely nothing in the tank,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “Disappointing for us. We had an emotional win and we looked like we had a hangover.”
Immediately after Tuesday’s 58-46 win at UNC, Gottfried preached to his team that they needed to learn how to handle beating the Tar Heels and to treat the next game the same way emotionally.
Gottfried was frustrated the message got lost in transit from Chapel Hill to Chestnut Hill.
“I would love for everything that I say to happen,” Gottfried said. “When I say this, then it happens. When I say that, then we do that. Sometimes it’s not that easy.”
It was pretty easy for Boston College in the first half. The Eagles led 21-11 after 10 minutes and 43-26 at the half. They shot a blistering 65.2 percent in the first half.
More telling of N.C. State’s deficient energy level, BC’s smaller lineup out-rebounded the Wolfpack 19-10 in the first half.
“We didn’t have any zip, we didn’t have any quickness,” Gottfried said. “They played great, and we played like we had cement boots on.”
Junior guard Olivier Hanlan led the charge with 24 points as the Eagles ended a nine-game losing streak.
The loss broke a three-game winning streak by the Wolfpack, which had dramatically improved its NCAA tournament positioning.
There are still elements working in N.C. State’s favor for the postseason, but Saturday’s loss certainly didn’t help the cause. BC entered the game at No. 177 in the RPI and now qualifies as the Wolfpack’s worst loss of the season.
“There’s really no explanation for it,” N.C. State junior Trevor Lacey said.
Maybe not for the way N.C. State played, but there was a good explanation for the loss.
The defensive improvement N.C. State had shown since an 88-84 loss at Wake Forest on Feb. 3 was nowhere to be found.
N.C. State had held the previous four opponents to an average of 53.8 points per game. The Eagles had five players score in double figures and exceeded their ACC scoring average (62.9) by more than 16 points.
Hanlan did most of the damage, going 7 of 11 from the floor and 7 of 8 from the foul line. His 3-pointer over guard Cat Barber with 12 minutes, 59 seconds left in the second half made it 56-33, all but ending the competitive portion of the game.
“They do a great job getting him the ball, and he makes the right play every time,” Lacey said.
Sophomore forward Kyle Washington led N.C. State with 14 points and senior Ralston Turner added 13, but Turner was 3 of 14 from 3-point range.
N.C. State shot 32.8 percent (21 of 64), compared to 56.8 percent (25 of 44) for the Eagles.
N.C. State will get criticized for Saturday’s performance, but the only thing to do is move on, Lacey said.
“We are all disappointed in the loss and our performance, but we can’t dwell on this,” he said. “We can’t beat ourselves up because we lost to Boston College, and we didn’t play well.”
For the Encore
N.C. State beat North Carolina 99-94 on Feb. 22, 1992 and four days later beat Clemson, 63-61. The Wolfpack has won 10 games against UNC since the 1991-92 season and has lost its next ACC game each time.
Next ACC game
Feb. 24, 2015
L, at Boston College, 79-63
Jan. 26, 2013
L, at Virginia, 58-55
Feb. 3, 2007
L, at Georgia Tech, 74-65
Feb. 25, 2003
L, Maryland, 68-65
Jan. 26, 2003
L, at Maryland, 75-60
Feb. 24, 2002
L, at Wake Forest, 83-71
Jan. 23, 2002
L, Wake Forest, 82-81
Feb. 21, 1998
L, Clemson, 77-72
Feb. 3, 1996
L, Virginia, 84-82
Jan. 4, 1995
L, Virginia, 76-65
Note: *game in Chapel Hill.
Sophomore forward Kyle Washington has seen his minutes reduced recently but he was the lone bright spot in Saturday’s letdown loss. He had 14 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.
The defense and the rebounding in the first half were twin killers. Boston College shot 65.2 percent and had a 19-10 edge on the boards. N.C. State’s lack of energy, or “zip” as coach Mark Gottfried called it, can be quantified in those two numbers.