With Braxton Beverly out, NC State needed its freshmen guards to step up, and instead, they went the other way. So it goes sometimes. Shakeel Moore was 3-10 from the field and turned the ball over five times; Cam Hayes shot 2-13 and turned it over three times; Dereon Seabron committed four turnovers.
It is really difficult to turn those performances into a team win, but NC State nearly did thanks to the efforts from DJ Funderburk and Manny Bates, who combined to shoot 12-14 from the field. But they couldn’t do enough late, and Funderburk couldn’t get enough touches, which gets back to the guards—Colorado State didn’t have to worry about protecting the perimeter, and so it could clog the paint and deny the ball to the Pack’s bigs.
Colorado State was absolutely terrible in the first half—slightly more terrible than NC State—but the Rams found a greater degree of normalcy in the second half, and that was enough. The Rams got back to their game, while NC State just continued throwing the ball away.
Still this game came down to a final possession for NC State, down 63-61, which led to a three-point attempt by Jericole Hellems at the top of the key. The play design was good, and the idea was good, but this was just not a night for execution. Hellems rushed the attempt and it was long, and the Pack could not secure the offensive rebound.
It’s a minor miracle the game was even in doubt at that point, but both teams spent a whole lot of time trying to hand the result to the other side. Which was also a pretty good reminder of why these teams are where they are.