Brown finished with 17 points on 7-8 shooting to go along with a game-high eight assists. Brown, who leads the Wolfpack in assists and is now tied with C.J. Leslie as the team’s leading scorer with 12.9 points-per-game, was one of five Wolfpack players with double-digit points against Western Carolina, paced by C.J. Williams’ 21 and Richard Howell’s 12 points and game-high 14 rebounds, his third straight double-double.
With a midafternoon start and semi-muted announced crowd of 13,429 seemingly already pacing themselves for a long night of New Year’s revelry, N.C. State started slowly with only three points over the game’s opening four minutes. However, a Howell jumper at the 10-minute mark of the first half gave the Wolfpack a lead that would never drop below double-digits and, in fact, would grow to as much as 41 points midway through the second half. In the end, the game became one for both stats and Staats (Battle).
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC takes the court against an MEAC opponent for the second straight day, this time with local rival N.C. Central coming to visit.
Broomfield had missed four games including the rout loss to South Carolina with a foot injury, while Rolle was in the lineup for the first time since the birth of her child on Nov. 8.
NCCU (2-11), under long-time coach Joli Robinson, is at Carmichael for the fifth straight season, falling 97-40 last time. The Eagles, 0-4 in the series, are in their first season as full members of NCAA Division I.
It’s never really much of a challenge for the Tar Heels, but the Eagles keep it more respectable this time as UNC wins 79-42.
The Tar Heels held the Phoenix to 21 percent shooting in the first half and took a 53-19 lead into the locker room, effectively ending the competition in the first frame.
Harrison Barnes spent the previous night vomiting due to a stomach bug, but slow, small Elon provided the tonic for his woes. He shot 7-for-12 and finished with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. Tyler Zeller missed several layups but worked aggressively on the glass and finished with 19 points and 13 boards.
Dexter Strickland was the only Tar Heel to play more than 25 minutes, enabling Roy Williams to rest his regulars and send the reserves onto the floor to gain experience.
Progress can be difficult to assess against an overpowered foe, but the Tar Heels have impressed recently despite this December stretch of weaker games. Carolina simply out-hustled Elon at times and continued to clean up mistakes made earlier this season, including more consistent block outs and fewer breakdowns in transition defense.
If you’re looking for a troubling item, perhaps the target would be freshman P.J. Hairston, who has descended into a shooting slump over the past five games. The Heels don’t need him against mid-majors, but his ability to knock in threes will prove critical against better ACC squads.
The only tense moment versus Elon occurred very late, when a male UNC cheerleader dropped his airborne female counterpart. She crashed with sickening volume and was down several minutes before rising and leaving the court assisted by trainers.
Carolina’s kids should enjoy another breezy contest on Sunday, when 2-11 Monmouth — coached by former Heel King Rice, in his first season — travels to the Smith Center. Click here to view the UNC/Elon box score.
On this night, the game was every bit as close as N.C. State’s 87-81 margin of victory over Campbell suggested, a contest that saw 15 ties and 12 lead changes. The Wolfpack (9-4) were paced by a career-high 24 points from Lorenzo Brown, who also added eight rebounds and eight assists. N.C. State also dominated the interior, outscoring Campbell 46-24 in the paint and out-rebounding them 40-22, highlighted by a 17-point, 17-rebound night from Richard Howell.
However, even in defeat, the feisty Camels (8-6) were the big story. After winning eight of their first nine games this season, Campbell came to Reynolds having lost four straight. However, all four losses were road affairs that required the Camels to trek from Houston, Texas to Blacksburg, Va. to Wilmington, N.C. to Boone, N.C. over just nine days. However, Campbell came into the N.C. State match ready and rested, having not played in a week.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—A month ago, the Canes would have folded. But in the last home game of the year, they didn't. And the captain led the way.
"It was all about our leadership tonight. Sutter, Staal, and Ward—those guys," coach Kirk Muller noted after the comeback win. "Staal was the best player on the ice tonight and there are a lot of people in our room who are happy for him."
Staal has labored through a miserable season, skating under high expectations that seemed many nights to weigh quite literally on his shoulders. His final line against Toronto reads two goals, an assist, and five shots on goal—a dominant, and perhaps emergent, game. But the truth is that he's been reassembling his game one piece at a time for more than a month now, and finding his way onto the scoresheet more consistently over the last two weeks. He started in the face-off circle, worked harder backchecking and fighting for pucks in the corners and, buoyed by occasional stints as a winger rather than a center, started showing flashes of speed and creativity in the offensive zone.
Staal's breakaway snapshot goal midway through the third period may have snapped the last piece of his game into place.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC will take the floor for the first time this season with a healthy contingent of post players, and that might be tough news for today’s opponent.
The Tar Heels have had a ridiculous rash of injuries and other things keeping players out of the lineup, but today Laura Broomfield and Waltiea Rolle will be able to join center Chay Shegog in the paint.
The 6-foot forward Broomfield is averaging a double-double but has missed the last four games with a foot injury, while 6-6 Rolle will be in the lineup for the first time after the birth of her daughter Carlisa in the Bahamas on Nov. 8.
Poor Savannah State.
The Tigers put together the lowest point total against the Tar Heels in the history of the program, falling 74-21 after scoring eight points in the second half.
FSN SOUTH (TV)—Justin Peters has some new bruises.
Carolina, which had beaten the New Jersey Devils the night before on Boxing Day in Raleigh, saw its modest win streak halted at two games. But Cam Ward, who sat out the second half of the back-to-back games in Pittsburgh, still has a goal-scoring streak. The last Canes player to touch the puck before Ilya Kovalchuk's desperation pass skittered all the way down the ice into his team's empty net, Ward became the first goalie in franchise history—and just the tenth in league history—to be credited with a goal.
But even that kind of luck wouldn't have helped the Canes in Pittsburgh. Steve Sullivan's power-play goal 1:18 into the third broke a 1-1 tie, and Pascal Dupuis scored 70 seconds later for a lead the Canes couldn't surmount. Mustering only 18 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury, Carolina looked like a team that had played elsewhere the night before, facing a team that had enjoyed two off-nights at home.
Tim Brent and Tuomo Ruutu notched goals for the Canes, extending Ruutu's goal streak to three games. James Neal and Jordan Staal also scored for the Penguins.
Neal, who potted his 21st, is just one goal off the league lead. Two assists by Neal's linemate Evgeni Malkin put him just two points off the league scoring lead. With Chris Kunitz, they harried the Canes all night.
BANK OF AMERICA STADIUM/CHARLOTTE N.C. State looks to put some icing on the proverbial cake tonight.
The Wolfpack (7-5), which won three of four games in spectacular fashion in November to become bowl-eligible under pressure, will take on Big East co-champion Louisville (7-5) in front of a big partisan crowd in the Belk Bowl.
Both teams come in hot, as Louisville has won five of its last six.
It’s the second time State has appeared in a bowl game in Charlotte, as the Wolfpack blanked South Florida 14-0 in the then-Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2005.
State coach Tom O’Brien is 7-2 all-time in bowl games — 1-1 with the Wolfpack — and the Wolfpack is 13-11-1 in all-time bowl action.
State gets it done, holding on for a 31-24 win before 58,427.
The last football game in North Carolina in 2011 will be played Tuesday night, and N.C. State will be looking to put an exclamation point at the end of a solid second half.
ESPN will show it live at 8 p.m., and it will be the only football on TV at the time.
“At a point in the season — us after five games (2-3) and them after six (2-4) — nobody would have expected the two of us would be here,” Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien said. “It’s probably going to be one of those games that will go down to the last play, and the bowl people will love it.”
It’s supposed to be a close one, as the Wolfpack will be a 1 ½-point favorite in front of a partisan crowd that will probably top 60,000.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—Cam Ward was talking, but you couldn’t hear what he was saying.
“Clearly, the guys are excited,” deadpanned the unflappable goalie.
The Hurricanes gave themselves an early Christmas present Friday night, topping the Ottawa Senators 2-1 on an overtime goal from Tuomo Ruutu. Ward, despite hardly seeing action for the first half of the contest, maintained his trademark calm to stop 22 shots.
But his teammates weren’t calm. They were laughing and shouting and joyful. And beneath that, relieved.
This game could have been a repeat of Wednesday’s emotional sinkhole, in which the Phoenix Coyotes overturned a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 win. As they have on more than a few nights this season, the Canes went into a shell the moment the Coyotes caught a break. When Carolina failed to dent Ottawa’s goalie Craig Anderson during 1:52 of a two-man advantage in the first period, and then gave up a tying goal to Filip Kuba despite outshooting the Senators 19-6, they could have buckled.
But they didn’t. Not this night. And during a season that hasn’t gone how the Canes had imagined it, that’s worth celebrating.