N.C. State pummels cold-shooting Winthrop men's basketball team

N.C. State's Ben McCauley shoots while defended by Winthrop's Mantoris Robinson (33) and George Valentine.
N.C. State's Ben McCauley shoots while defended by Winthrop's Mantoris Robinson (33) and George Valentine.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Just when it looked like it couldn't get any worse for Winthrop's basketball team, well, it did.

Playing their fourth straight road game in nine days, the Eagles (1-4) did a little bit of everything wrong Tuesday night and walked out of the RBC Center with a 74-48 loss, their fourth in a row and longest losing streak since the 1997-1998 season.

It was the fourth straight double-digit loss and included the lowest point total of the season, the lowest field goal percentage (.286), lowest assist total (3) and second worst 3-point field goal percentage (.188).

But mostly included what coach Randy Peele had feared most going in -- an inability to stop the ball from getting into the post, and when it did, an inability to do anything to stop it from going in the bucket most of the time.

"That was the reason they won," said Peele, who kept his team in the dressing room for more than 30 minutes after the loss.

The Wolfpack's post threesome of starters 6-9, 237-pound Ben McCauley, 6-9, 231-pound Brandon Costner and 6-8, 240 reserve Tracy Smith slammed the Eagles for 40 points, 24 rebounds and shot a combined 13-of-23 from the floor.

They were a key reason the Pack got to the free throw line 27 times, making 22. Winthrop shot just 12, an indication of their inability to do much at all in the lane.

Winthrop's perimeter defense did little to stop State's guards from getting where they wanted to deliver the ball inside.

Winthrop's inside players of Chris Malcolm, Charles Corbin and George Valentine had 10 points and 15 rebounds. Corbin fouled out in eight minutes. Valentine, getting his first start of the year, had three points and one rebound in 19 minutes.

Malcolm, the 6-7 redshirt freshman, played a season-high 19 minutes and grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots to go with 5 points. If there was a bright spot inside, it was Malcolm, but he missed a couple of layups in the first half when the Eagles were trying to hang around.

"We had point-blank layups," Peele said. "From a coaching standpoint, we couldn't have put them in a better position."

Although the rebound margin was just 45-37 and State had just 12 offensive rebounds, the numbers belied the inside dominance.

"We had to control the glass," Peele said. "We had to rebound effectively. And we had to play unbelievable post defense.

"Instead, we couldn't stop the ball from being posted and every one of our guys had two fouls in the first half.

"I don't think we have one post player who can guard one of their post players one-on-one."

Cameron Stanley led the Eagles with 15 points and eight rebounds. No other Eagle hit double figures. They shot 24 percent in the second half, when State stretched the lead to as many as 27 points.

The Eagles trailed 22-15 with 8:15 left in the first half, when the Pack took control with 16-2 run to build a 21-point lead. The Eagles, with State picking up the defensive pressure, fell into a familiar pattern of launching several questionable shots. They missed 8-of-9 shots and turned the ball over three times.

"Our biggest thing right now," Peele said, "is that when it gets tough offensively, we settle (for shots). That's why our field-goal percentage was 28 percent.

"In the first half, we had 10 possessions with four or more passes and we scored six times."

The Eagles "settled" a lot in the second half. They didn't have a single assist.

Stanley made half of his 10 shots. The rest of the team was 15-of-53.

"We took Winthrop out of their offense and made them uncomfortable," State coach Sidney Lowe said. "Our bigs did a nice job up top, and we were able to mess up their rhythm.

"We did a lot of things well. Our offense picked up and on defense we were able to get some stops."

The Eagles finally get a home game on Saturday, facing East Carolina at 7 in the Winthrop Coliseum.

But Tuesday night proved, once more, what Peele has been saying all season.

"We are a work in progress," he said.