Photo: Zac Swansey led Tech with 13 points in his Golden Eagle debut
RALEIGH, N.C., -- Headed into the locker room at halftime, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team looked like anything but the 20-point underdog that they were labeled prior to Friday night's contest at North Carolina State. But the Wolfpack, a powerhouse team in the ACC, took advantage of Tech's second-half foul troubles to escape with an 82-69 victory to the open the 2010-11 season.
After trailing 2-0 for the first three minutes of the game, the Golden Eagles seized the lead and stretched it to as many as five points through the first 11 minutes of the game.
Ten different Golden Eagles combined for the team's 34 first-half points, led by junior point guard Zac Swansey with six in a 3-for-7 effort. Zach Bailey, Kevin Murphy and Matt Marseille each contributed five first-half points, with Marseille showcasing a perfect 2-2 from the field, including one 3-pointer.
Tech matched the Wolfpack in second chance points with nine and total rebounds with 19, and saw 11 points from players coming off the bench. After six lead changes in the fist half and despite trailing by as many as 10, the Golden Eagles trailed by only three points as they took to the locker room with a score of 37-34.
Fouls and turnovers proved the inevitable downfall for Tech though, as they accumulated 11 turnovers in the second half, giving up 21 points on 19 turnovers on the game. The Golden Eagles accumulated eight team fouls in just over nine minutes into the second half, putting the Wolfpack in a bonus situation early. Just under five minutes into the second half, the Wolfpack had stretched their three point lead to an 11-point game, and notched their largest lead of the game, 16 points, with just under seven minutes left on the clock.
Led by Ryan Harrow with a perfect 8-for-8 at the line, N.C. State shot 18-for-25 from the free throw line in the second half. Harrow contributed 16 points on the night, outscored only by teammate C.J. Leslie with 21 points.
Swansey added another seven points in the second half to lead the Golden Eagles offensively with 13 points in his Tech debut, while Terrell Barnes dominated the glass for 10 rebounds to add to Tech's 47 total rebounds, 10 more than the Wolfpack wrestled down.
Zach Bailey finished the day with nine points, while Alfred Jones went 4-for-5 for eight points.
"We're really proud of how we competed tonight," head coach Mike Sutton said. "You have to play at a high level to compete with a high-caliber team like N.C. State. You don't have a big margin for error when you're on the road against a good team, we had some really positive plays and had a few chances that we let slip away with mistakes.
"They have a lot of big athletic guys that we couldn't keep off the line, so foul trouble hurt us, but we played them close and I thought we had a chance if we could have made a few more shots and a few less mistakes," Sutton continued. "It's a starting point though, we have a tough stretch of games coming up, but the journey is what's important in getting to the final destination, and I'm proud of what we did tonight."
The Golden Eagles will hit the road to East Tennessee State next weekend for a 3 p.m. match-up on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Photo at left: Freshman Dennis Ogbe challenge the Wolfpack
(photos by Karl Deblaker)