for this game

Costner, NC State continue road struggles for Wake Forest

Feb 12, 2009 - 5:32 AM RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- North Carolina State is the latest team to give the inkling that Wake Forest is still learning how to be a good team, like win on the road.

Brandon Costner scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds as North Carolina State continued eighth-ranked Wake Forest's road issues with an 82-76 upset of the Demon Deacons on Wednesday.

Farnold Degand had 14 points and Courtney Fells and Tracy Smith added 12 apiece for the Wolfpack (13-9, 3-6 ACC), who won for just the second time in their last six conference games.

"A win cures everything," North Carolina State coach Sidney Lowe said. "It was a great win for our guys."

North Carolina State also finally notched a victory against a ranked opponent, losing its previous five matchups with top-25 teams prior to Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest (18-4, 5-4) continued to look vulnerable on the road, dropping its third straight league away game since topping then-No. 9 Clemson, 78-68, on January 17.

The Demon Deacons shot the ball well early, but failed to look inspired on the defensive end, as the Wolfpack surpassed 40 points in the first half for just the second time in their nine league games.

"With our defense, we should never give up a back-door basket, and we gave up several," Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said.

NC State, which ended up shooting 43 percent (26-of-61), continued to build on its 42-34 advantage following the break. After Wake Forest closed within six points on a dunk by L.D. Williams, the Wolfpack responded with an 18-4 run to push their lead to 20 points.

Costner scored the final 11 points of the run, including a 3-pointer that made it 62-42 with 13:44 remaining. The junior forward ended up with 17 points after intermission.

"Brandon was poised down the stretch," Lowe said. "He was getting open to relieve the pressure so we could get into something."

Along with its solid scoring, NC State did a strong job on the boards, finishing with a 39-35 advantage. Smith had 12 rebounds, including 10 offensive, in notching his first double-double of the season.

"Tracy Smith had 10 offensive rebounds for them," Gaudio said. "He did a heck of a job, but we had several possessions where we did not box out. We had two instances where we didn't block out on a free throw, which is inexcusable. One time, we didn't box out the shooter on a free throw. You learn to do that in third grade."

NC State maintained a comfortable cushion until Wake Forest made an ill-fated rally, closing within 78-76 on a 3-pointer by James Johnson with 1:04 to play. The sophomore forward hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 16-3 burst.

After Ben McCauley split a pair of free throws for the Wolfpack, the Demon Deacons had a chance to pull even but Johnson missed another 3-point attempt. Javier Gonzalez grabbed the defensive rebound and made both foul shots with 17 seconds left.

Ishmael Smith was off the mark on another shot from the arc for the Demon Deacons, and Costner split two free throws to give the Wolfpack the 82-76 lead.

"I knew we were going to pull this one out," Costner said. "I wasn't worried."

Despite some late misses, NC State ended up 23-of-31 from the stripe.

Johnson finished with 18 points Jeff Teague chipped in 11 for Wake Forest, which went 5-of-18 (29 percent) on 3-pointers and committed 17 turnovers.

Along with the high number of turnovers, the Demon Deacons surrendered 17 offensive rebounds. Those were two stats that dismayed Gaudio.

"That's 34 possessions they shouldn't have had," Gaudio said. "That was the ballgame right there. You can't win if you give the other team 34 extra possessions like that."