RALEIGH — C.J. Bryce scored 18 points to help NC State beat Little Rock 74-58 on Saturday.
Markell Johnson added 12 points for the Wolfpack (5-1), who won their fifth consecutive game.
“I feel like this team is in a really good groove right now,” Bryce said. “We’re getting our guys back going and comfortable playing with each other.”
NC State took the lead with an early 12-2 run and pulled away late in the first half with a 12-0 spurt. The Wolfpack, who surged ahead by as many as 24 points in the first half, led 39-21 at halftime.
NC State finished with a season-high 11 steals and held Little Rock to 37% shooting, including 4 of 18 from 3-point range.
“Our defense was really good,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.
Ben Coupet Jr. scored 21 points to lead Little Rock (3-3). Ruot Monyyong added a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans.
Monyyong and Coupet combined to shoot 17 of 27 from the floor. Their other teammates made 5 of 32 shots.
Little Rock: The Trojans were coming off a 68-58 loss at No. 16 Memphis in which they trailed by two points late in the second half, but they couldn’t duplicate that performance. Turnovers again were a problem. Little Rock, which had 26 turnovers against Memphis, had 11 in the first half Saturday that led to 14 points for NC State. “It was rough for us in the first half,” Little Rock coach Darrell Walker said.
NC State: The Wolfpack were impressive on both ends of the floor. They moved the ball effectively on offense, scoring on 10 consecutive possessions while building their lead. They also showed attention to detail on defense, bottling up Little Rock point guard Markquis Nowell.
Nowell, who entered the game averaging 20.2 points per game, finished with a season-low eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. He went scoreless in the first half on 0-for-5 shooting.
Walker used just five players in the second half. Nowell and Coupet played all 40 minutes of the game, and Monyyong, Jovan Stulic and reserve Isaiah Palermo joined them on the court for the second half’s entirety.
“I wanted to play the guys that I felt were going to compete, and they did,” Walker said. “We took care of the ball a lot better in the second half than we did in the first.”
NC State forward Jericole Hellems entered the game with no assists in 135 minutes this season. He had a career-high six assists in 27 minutes against the Trojans.
His coach’s take?
“Don’t get used to that,” Keatts said. “He’s never going to pass. … I told the team that he had two assists, and everybody was happy. He actually had six, but that just tells you that he doesn’t pass the ball. But it was good for him.”
As NC State attempted to dribble out the final seconds, Devon Daniels and Nowell engaged in some heated banter that had potential to escalate. Official Tony Henderson stopped the game with 1.3 seconds remaining and declared it finished, prompting an announcement from the public address announcer that the game was over. As fans began to leave and the teams lined up to shake hands, the officials reconsidered and had the teams finish the game.
While waiting for the ball to be inbounded, Daniels and Palermo picked up technical fouls and were ejected. The teams finished the game with no further issues.
“The little guard, he was saying a few things,” Daniels said, referring to Nowell. “I’m not going to say too much about it. He was saying a few things, and I was just laughing at him. It happens, I guess.”
Little Rock: After playing five of their first six games on the road, the Trojans host St. Francis Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
NC State: The Wolfpack leave the comforts of home for the first time this season when they play Memphis on Thursday in Brooklyn.
Linssen scores 18 to lift UNC-Wilmington over FIU 66-63
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marten Linssen posted 18 points as UNC Wilmington narrowly beat Florida International 66-63 on Saturday, the final day of the annual D.C. Classic tournament.
Shykeim Phillips gave UNC Wilmington the lead with his jumper less than two minutes into the second half and the Seahawks never relinquished it, but Isaiah Banks did pull FIU within one in the final minutes with a 3-pointer to make it 64-63, but the Panthers did not score again.
Jaylen Sims had 15 points for UNC Wilmington (4-3). Imajae Dodd added 10 points.
Devon Andrews had 16 points for the Panthers (3-3). Isaiah Banks added 15 points. Antonio Daye had 11 points.
UNC Wilmington faces Emory & Henry at home on Tuesday. Florida International matches up against Keiser at home on Tuesday.
Elon drops its fourth straight in home loss to Manhattan
ELON — Tyler Reynolds had 14 points off the bench to lift Manhattan to a 69-64 win over Elon on Saturday.
Samir Stewart had 11 points for Manhattan (3-1). Tykei Greene added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Elijah Buchanan, who was second on the Jaspers in scoring heading into the contest with 10 points per game, shot only 20 percent for the game (1 of 5).
Marcus Sheffield had 24 points and seven rebounds for the Phoenix (2-4), who have now lost four games in a row. Hunter Woods added 21 points and six rebounds. Simon Wright led the team with nine rebounds.
Manhattan takes on Rhode Island on the road on Wednesday. Elon faces Furman at home on Tuesday.
ECU loses to Missouri-Kansas City in Bahamas
NASSAU, Bahamas — Rob Whitfield had a career-high 29 points as Missouri-Kansas City topped East Carolina 74-68 in the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase on Saturday night.
Whitfield shot 7 for 12 from behind the arc.
Javan White had 18 points to go with 11 rebounds for UMKC (4-3). Josiah Allick added 10 points.
Brandon Suggs had 14 points for the Pirates (2-4). Jayden Gardner and J.J. Miles added 13 points apiece.
High Point still looking for its first win after loss to Eastern Washington
HIGH POINT — Kim Aiken Jr. and Jacob Davison scored 19 points apiece as Eastern Washington defeated High Point 90-74 on Saturday.
EWU jumped out to a 15-2 lead, freshman Ellis Magnuson highlighted the first half with 12 points, and the Eagles used a 49-point second half to beat coach Tubby Smith’s team.
Mason Peatling added 15 points with eight rebounds for Eastern Washington (3-2). Magnuson had scored just four points in the first four games of his career.
Caden Sanchez had 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for the Panthers (0-6). Eric Coleman Jr. added 14 points and Curtis Holland III had 10. John-Michael Wright, the Panthers’ leading scorer coming into the matchup at 13 points per game, shot only 18% (2 of 11).