01/27/05 — Seminoles snap 26-game ACC road losing streak at N.C. State

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Seminoles snap 26-game ACC road losing streak at N.C. State

By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on January 27, 2005 1:56 PM

RALEIGH - Although recent history suggests otherwise, Florida State proved Wednesday night it actually can win on the road in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Von Wafer connected on 5-of-7 attempts from behind the 3-point arc and finished with a game-high 23 points as the Seminoles snapped their 26-game ACC road losing streak by edging N.C. State 70-64 at the RBC Center.

"Wins are hard to get anywhere in this league," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We've played well enough on the road to win, but have fallen short because we're playing such outstanding teams. I saw that look in our players' eyes and knew they were determined to win this one.

"This one is satisfying."

N.C. State - which had beaten the Seminoles (11-9 overall, 3-4 ACC) in 12 straight meetings - was left with a much different feeling as it now faces a grueling two-week stretch that includes road dates against top-10 teams North Carolina and Wake Forest.

Four of N.C. State's next five games are away.

The road back to ACC respectability now appears to be a rocky one for the Wolfpack (12-7, 2-4).

"We all have to stay focused for a full 40 minutes, and we have to start winning some games," said N.C. State senior Julius Hodge, who had 14 points and six rebounds. "It hurts to lose a game you know you should've won. It's come to a time where we can't keep doing this. We have to make up our minds right now to stop this."

Wolfpack center Jordan Collins missed a 3 - and a chance to force overtime - with 10 seconds remaining. A 13-of-23 showing from the free-throw line also helped send N.C. State to its sixth loss in eight games.

"We battled and gave ourselves every opportunity," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said. "We went through spans where the game hung in the balance, and we would miss our free throws. In a close game, that's awfully hard to overcome."

Florida State closed the first half on a 20-4 run to take a 33-25 lead into the break. The Seminoles shot 60 percent (6 of 10) from 3-point range during the opening 20 minutes and never trailed again.

Wafer's steal and ensuing dunk with just over 17 minutes remaining gave Florida State its biggest lead at 45-31.

But matters did get much closer.

N.C. State drew within 65-62 when freshman guard Gavin Grant fired a no-look pass to Engin Atsur for an easy layup with 3:14 left.

"We get close, and then we have lapses," Hodge said. "That was the case a lot tonight. We have to stay focused. We need to close things out."

Ilian Evtimov hit back-to-back 3-pointers to jump-start a 13-2 run midway through the first half that carried N.C. State to a 21-13 lead - all with Hodge resting on the bench.

Hodge was the lone Wolfpack player to score in double figures.

Al Thornton scored 12 points for Florida State, and Alexander Johnson added 11.

"Our guys were extremely confident and cheerful," Hamilton said. "We were all pulling for each other tonight. We remained positive in the face of adversity at the end of the game. I've always been confident that we would break this road losing streak."

The Seminoles will look to continue their newfound road success on Feb. 2 at Georgia Tech.

Notes: Hodge had his streak of three straight double-doubles broken in the loss. ... N.C. State scored 16 points off 10 Florida State turnovers. ... Thornton led Florida State with seven rebounds. ... N.C. State shot 30.8 percent (8 of 26) from the field during the first half. ... Evtimov finished with nine points. ... Grant led N.C. State with 10 rebounds. ... Atsur recorded a game-high six assists. ... 17,116 were in attendance.