ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Six minutes. Three hundred and sixty seconds.
It is not an especially long period of time. But to hear Penn State men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers, that was the difference between his squad and NC State.
Braxton Beverly scored 18 points to lead NC State to an 89-78 win over Penn State in the second of four Air Force Reserve Boardwalk Classic games Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“We have to play 40 minutes,” Chambers said. “We played a really, really good 34 minutes.”
Beverly was one of five players in double-figure scoring for the Wolfpack, which improved to 9-1 with its third straight win. Torin Dorn added 15 for NC State. Markell Johnson and C.J. Bryce each had 13, and DJ Funderburk finished with 12.
Whereas NC State appears to be developing positive traction ahead of conference play, Penn State looks to be a work in progress. The Nittany Lions dropped to 5-5 with their third loss in their last four games.
“We have a small margin for error,” Chambers said.
Rasir Bolton led all scored with 25 points, and Josh Reaves had 15 for Penn State. Lamar Stevens chipped in with 11, and Mike Watkins had 10.
“I believe we have a really talented team,” Chambers said.
If this was a heavyweight title fight, you could say NC State absorbed a quick flurry in the middle rounds and responded with heavy body blows that staggered the Nittany Lions.
Trailing 40-37 at halftime, Penn State opened the second half by outscoring the Wolfpack 19-15 in the first 7:07, capped by Jamari Wheeler’s 3-point play which gave the Nittany Lions their first lead, 56-55, since early in the first half.
That would turn out to be the high water mark for the Nittany Lions.
Following Wheeler’s 3-point play, NC State ripped off a 25-8 run to transform the one-point deficit to an 80-64 lead. In that stretch Beverly, Johnson and Funderburk each knocked down 3-point baskets. Beverly added three layups while Funderburk had two.
“We’re relying on defense_we didn’t get stops and usually we get stops,” Chambers said. “We missed layups_it just doesn’t go in_and look, we’re a little deflated so I think that was noticeable in the last five, 5 1/2 minutes.”
The teams traded baskets the rest of the way.
PENN STATE: When Pat Chambers studies the tape of the loss, he is going to see a familiar bugaboo: free throw shooting. In a game in which Penn State shot 42 percent from the field (27 for 64) and 35 percent from 3 (6 for 17), the Nittany Lions missed nine of 27 free throws.
NC STATE: There are few things that cause coaches to suffer headaches than turnovers. Just ask Kevin Keatts. His team entered Saturday’s matinee with a +6.7 turnover margin this season (18.7 forced turnovers versus 12.0 committed turnovers). Against Penn State, though, NC State committed 17 turnovers and only forced 14. With an upcoming game against No. 8 Auburn and conference play on the horizon, Keatts has to determine whether the Wolfpack’s ball management issues were an outlier or a precursor of things to come.