Wolfpack dismantles outmanned Northwestern

Dec. 05, 2013 @ 01:14 AM

RALEIGH — With health improving, so too is a team learning how its parts operate.

N.C. State roared past Northwestern 69-48 Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at PNC Arena. The building was nearly half empty, but the Wolfpack’s return to full strength was punctuated by 7-footer Jordan Vandenberg’s difference down low.

“When Jordan comes back, he’s a tremendous rebounder,” said freshman Lennard Freeman, who scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. “It helps us define our roles.”

T.J. Warren, who scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds, agreed.

“Playing the four, it was hard for me to get position inside,” said the 6-foot-8 sophomore. “Crashing from the three, it’s been a lot easier to get rebounds.”

Vandenberg finished with 12 points, missing only two of eight. He had three rebounds, but altered a lot of inside plans by the Wildcats (4-5).

Junior LSU transfer Ralston Turner added 13 points off the bench, including a couple of late 3-pointers, for the Wolfpack (5-2). Tyler Lewis had seven assists off the bench and Anthony Barber finished with seven points and five assists.

Northwestern, in its first year under former Duke player and assistant coach Chris Collins, looked the part of a team in transition. The Wildcats didn’t use screens very well in the first half, getting most of their offense from senior guard Drew Crawford.

The Wolfpack, which hosts Long Beach State on Saturday, led 31-20 at intermission. Northwestern then committed three fouls in the first 56 seconds and missed seven of its first eight floor shots in the opening four-plus minutes to fall behind 42-23.

“Coach said it was one of our best defensive efforts of the year,” Vandenberg said.

Northwestern shot 25 percent, with just 13 field goals against 11 turnovers. The four starters not named Crawford were 2-for-25 from the floor.

Crawford had 17 points and Tre Demps came off the bench to score 12.

“Our big guys are doing a pretty good job,” Warren said. “We need to have that for the rest of the season.”

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.