RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Cameron Bennerman's varied skills were on
full display for No. 14 North Carolina State. He scored almost at
will, helped force Wake Forest's Justin Gray into a horrible
shooting performance and even blocked a couple of shots while
helping a teammate.
All in a day's work, right?
"I just wanted to win the game," Bennerman said.
He did that, too.
The senior guard made all 12 free throws on his way to a
career-high 26 points, Engin Atsur tied a season high with 18 and
N.C. State rallied to beat the Demon Deacons 92-82 on Saturday.
Ilian Evtimov added 13 points for the Wolfpack (15-3, 4-2
Atlantic Coast Conference), who improved to 12-0 at home. They also
avoided their first losing streak of the season after a loss at No.
1 Duke on Wednesday.
"You get those feelings before a game that something's
different," Bennerman said. "Definitely, we wanted to get a win,
but I just wanted to play hard and get that taste out my mouth from
In that one, N.C. State was outscored 16-3 down the stretch of a
13-point loss, but there were no such problems Saturday. The
Wolfpack sprinted from the final tie at 64 and eventually increased
the margin to 12 points in the final 60 seconds.
"We're getting better, we learned our lesson," Evtimov said.
Eric Williams had 19 points for the Deacons (12-6, 1-4), while
teammate Michael Drum came off the bench for a career-high 18. But
Justin Gray, who averaged 30 points over the previous three games,
finished 5-for-22 from the field and had 14 points.
"Justin Gray was guarded well, you have to give them credit for
that," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "He's been shooting
very well for us lately. He just missed some open ones."
Gray's frustration was evident in the final minute, when he
heaved his gum into the crowd and accidentally hit an N.C. State
"I want to win, I'm not here to get taunted by the crowd the
whole night and then walk out with a loss," Gray said. "I was
just mad at that point. It happens."
Wake Forest led by 13 late in the first half before the Wolfpack
rallied, with Bennerman getting a three-point play and Tony Bethel
swishing a 3-pointer sandwiched around a layup by Evtimov. That cut
the deficit to five at the break, and the final 20 minutes was
close all the way.
"We just had to get the margin sliced before the half, and we
did some good things," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said. "When
Tony hit that big 3 and cut the lead to five, that was huge for
After three ties, N.C. State finally took its first lead at
60-58 when Bennerman converted a steal into an easy basket. The
Deacons pulled even three more times before the Wolfpack took over,
helped when Chris Ellis fouled out with nearly 6 minutes left.
He started for the second consecutive game -- his first two of
the season -- and contributed seven points, eight rebounds and three
blocks before halftime. Each of his three baskets were acrobatic,
high-energy dunks, including one right over Wolfpack center Cedric
But he played only 21 foul-plagued minutes, and his absence
forced Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser to use essentially four
guards. It worked out OK on offense, but N.C. State had little
trouble scoring in the final minutes to pull away.
"Right when they needed stops, we hit them between eyes with a
layup," Evtimov said. "That's very tough to guard. It's very
A nifty pass from Andrew Brackman allowed Atsur to score in
close, giving the Wolfpack the lead for good at 66-64. Following a
tip by Evtimov, Drum scored to bring Wake Forest within two for the
Atsur again got free for a layup, Brackman converted a pair of
free throws and Bethel jumped in the passing lane for a steal and
layup to make it 74-66.
The Deacons only got as close as five the rest of the way, even
with Gray continuing to look for his shot.
"If you know me, you know that's my mentality," he said.
"That's what I want to do."