Winning farewell for N.C. State seniors

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

Final farewells for seniors Richard Howell and Scott Wood were nothing like their brilliance over a four-year career.

But winning was all they cared for against a Wake Forest team that upset them in January. With the turnover-prone Deacons helping, N.C. State rolled out front by 15 at halftime and cruised through an 81-66 ACC win Wednesday night in PNC Arena.

The duo left to a standing ovation with just over two minutes left, the game already long since decided. And they spoke fondly of each other and their time with the Wolfpack in the afterglow.

“It’s more of an emotional thing for my mom and dad, and my family,” Wood said. “I’m sure one day when I look back on it, I’m going to miss it, playing in this arena, all these great fans, all these good moments, all the bad moments. I’m going to miss it. I’m just glad we went out with a win.”

Howell was a bit less carried away with the emotion as well.

“I definitely got close, especially when I came off the floor the last time and everybody was cheering my name,” Howell said.

Before the game, Howell came to the floor with his daughter, 2-year-old Milani, cradled in his arms and Wood was flanked by his parents. The fans cheered long and loud, but had a bit of a hiatus until getting vocal for them again.

Howell missed 13 minutes of the first half with foul trouble, and Wood never found the long range which has characterized his career. Wood remains nine 3-pointers away from tying Rodney Monroe’s school record of 322.

Howell, meanwhile, climbed within four of 1,000 rebounds, almost certain to hit it Saturday at Florida State. He’s currently fifth nationally, and sixth in double-doubles with 15.

Each senior paid tribute to the other for the rise up those ladders.

“That’s probably going to be the toughest part, leaving him,” Wood said. “He’s done a lot for me and my career just getting me open, and telling me to knock down shots. He’s a big part of why I got so many 3’s in my career and I’m going to miss him for sure.”

“He’s a character,” Howell said. “You don’t meet somebody like Scott Wood everyday. I’m blessed to play with someone like that. I wish him well.”

Prodded about Wood’s shooting and where he might rank without Howell, the 257-pound senior gave a soft grin and added, “He wouldn’t be leading the 3-pointers here.”

The Wolfpack (22-8, 11-6 ACC) kept pace for a top-four spot and free pass to next Friday’s ACC Tournament quarterfinals by rallying from a sluggish start and seizing command before intermission behind Wood, junior C.J. Leslie and freshman T.J. Warren.

The Demon Deacons (12-17, 5-11 ACC) of embattled head coach Jeff Bzdelik dropped behind by 20 early in the second half and never threatened, maintaining their season-long tendency (0-9 ACC) to be weak away from Joel Coliseum.

“I’m sad to see it end,” Howell said. “I’m excited for the next step.”

And while N.C. State was less than impressive, Wood kept the conversation directed and drew from a quote from Michael Jordan about LeBron James and his legacy.

“It’s all about wins at the end of the day,” Wood said. “Nobody is going to remember how many points you scored in a loss. The main thing is you win games. It’d be really fitting for this program and all my teammates and all my coaching staff if we can make a good run in the tournament.”

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.