Braxton Beverly lost his shot the last time he played at PNC Arena.
The N.C. State sophomore guard has since found it and in a big way on Wednesday night against Syracuse.
In as close to a “must-win” game you can have in February, Beverly equaled a career-high with 21 points to lead the Wolfpack to a 73-58 win over the Orange.
Beverly made four 3-pointers and all seven of his free throws. He missed all 12 of his shots, including an 0-for-9 effort from the 3-point line, in N.C. State’s home loss to Virginia Tech here on Feb. 2. Since then, he has made 13 of 22 from the 3-point line in the past three games.
Torin Dorn had a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) for the Wolfpack.
N.C. State (18-7, 6-6 ACC) needed a resume booster for its NCAA tournament case. The Wolfpack has been strong in the NCAA’s new rankings metric (No. 37 in the NET) but has been short on quality wins.
The Orange (17-8, 8-4) have had their own problems out of league play but have been strong in the ACC. They won their first trip to the Triangle, in a stunner at Duke on Jan. 14, and had won six of their previous eight in the conference before Wednesday’s loss.
Syracuse, which got a season-high 21 points from guard Frank Howard, entered the game at No. 47 in the NET. But the Orange, along with Auburn, figure to be in the NCAA field and N.C. State had been short on such wins.
N.C. State had been trending in the other direction with losses in five of the previous eight, including that ugly 47-24 loss to the Hokies. But the Wolfpack got a road win at Pittsburgh last Saturday and followed that up with an encore on Wednesday, thanks in large part to Beverly.
His 3 at 16:31, his fourth of the game, stretched N.C. State’s lead to 43-34. The Wolfpack was up 61-43 before Syracuse started to scratch back into the game.
The first half was hardly a work of art. Neither team could get into any rhythm. The Wolfpack led by as many 12 in the first half but had 12 turnovers to let the Orange hang around. But Beverly and Dorn wouldn’t let the Wolfpack lose.