Levelle Moton’s North Carolina Central Eagles entered Wednesday with an 0-13 record all-time against ACC schools, and in 208 meetings members of the MEAC had won just five games against teams from the league. But those numbers meant little, as the Eagles rode a significant advantage at the foul line to an 82-72 overtime win over N.C. State.
Jeremy Ingram shot just 4-for-11 from the field but he made up for it at the charity stripe, shooting 19-for-21 on his way to a game-high 29 points. As a team North Carolina Central shot 41-for-45 from the foul line, outscoring N.C. State by 18 in that department with the Wolfpack shooting 23-for-33. T.J. Warren fouled out after scoring 13 points and as a team N.C. State shot 3-for-20 from beyond the arc, shooting too many jumpers on a night that featured 57 total fouls.
When Warren struggles the Wolfpack will struggle, and that was something many knew to be the case before the season began based upon the fact that N.C. State lost four starters from last season’s NCAA tournament squad. Cat Barber scored a team-high 22 points and Desmond Lee added 12, and those two combined to attempt 28 of N.C. State’s 33 free throws.
But for N.C. State’s struggles defensively, all credit should be given to a North Carolina Central program that just recently completed its move to Division I. In their second season as a full-fledged Division I member, the Eagles went 15-1 in MEAC play and finished the season with 22 wins. And with players such as Ingram and Emanuel Chapman (18 points, three rebounds) back the Eagles are once again expected to contend.
N.C. State may not be a contender in the ACC, but this win is still one to celebrate for both North Carolina Central and the MEAC as a whole.