NC State rolls over McNeese State, 89-57, discovers another piece to the puzzle

Maverick Rowan posts 15 points in blowout win in penultimate game before ACC play

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
North Carolina State guard Maverick Rowan (24) is fouled by Georgia Southern guard Ike Smith (3) during the first half of a college men's basketball game on Friday

RALEIGH — NC State got all of its pieces back when it faced Appalachian State Dec. 15, but the question was whether they would all mesh. On Thursday night against McNeese State, yet another co-star looked the part alongside Dennis Smith Jr. as the Wolfpack moved to 10-2 with its fifth straight win.The freshman phenom once again filled the stat sheet with 23 points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks in just 20 minutes *takes a breath*, but Rowan wowed the crowd with his deep shooting. In his fourth game back from a concussion, Rowan finished with 15 points on 6-of-11 from the field with three triples. With just one game remaining before conference play begins, the sophomore finally feels like himself again after missing seven games with his first concussion.”I feel more comfortable out there,” Rowan said. “I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been putting a lot of hours in the gym and I feel good about it.”Another ho-hum 89-57 win over McNeese State may not seem like much to write home about, but it was significant for Rowan. With just two games left before the ACC opener against Miami on the road, the window was getting significantly smaller for Rowan to get his groove back.Following the game, Rowan noted that he woke up with a headache nearly every morning during his break from the court and felt completely out of sorts. Mark Gottfried said getting Rowan back on the court was about more than just regaining his three-point stroke.”The No. 1 thing was just getting in shape,” Gottfried said of Rowan. “That’s not a knock on Maverick, he just had three weeks where he was completely shut down. As he builds his stamina, gets his conditioning, I think he’s going to be very valuable to our team.”One distinct difference for Rowan this season has been coming off the bench instead of being in the starting lineup. With so much depth in outside shooting — including Smith, Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn — Rowan’s adapting to his new role for a Wolfpack team loaded with talent.”It’s definitely been an adjustment from starting last year to coming off the bench this year,” Rowan said. “But it’s whatever works for my team. We’re winning, so I can’t complain about that.”Rowan wasn’t the only player putting up numbers off the bench. In all, 14 players saw minutes in Thursday night’s game, with Tucker Thompson and Chris Corchiani Jr. combining for six points in four minutes.The final shot of the night came from Baby Corch, who heaved up a layup at the buzzer. When it fell, the entire crowd erupted as players from the Wolfpack bench met Corchiani at the baseline with hugs. It was a fitting end to a night where the Pack did everything it wanted against McNeese State.
“That’s good, that’s how it’s supposed to be,” Smith said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do in the non-conference. No disrespect to those teams, but we’re supposed to dominate. So that’s a good feeling.”