WINSTON-SALEM — NC State shared the ball and spread out the scoring production. The formula secured an Atlantic Coast Conference road win in a building that had been the site of plenty of frustration over the past three decades.
C.J. Bryce scored 18 points and NC State shot 52% to beat Wake Forest 91-82 on Saturday, earning its first league win on a day that ended on a concerning note with an injury to sophomore forward Jericole Hellems.
Braxton Beverly added 15 points for the Wolfpack (7-2, 1-1), who had six players hit double figures.
“It’s just everybody shooting with confidence,” said Beverly, who made all four of his 3s. “Any time somebody passed on an open shot, everyone got into them. We believe in each other. We believe everybody’s going to hit the shots they shoot.”
NC State pushed to a double-digit lead roughly 5 1/2 minutes in and never trailed, earning only its second win in eight tries in Winston-Salem. Still, the Wolfpack had trouble closing this one out, seeing a 13-point lead with 1:07 left closed to 85-80 on Brandon Childress’ 3 with 28 seconds left.
More concerning, though, was the sight of Hellems laying on the court afterward. He had gone up for a rebound with Wake Forest’s Olivier Sarr and began falling backward with Demon Deacons wing Chaundee Brown behind him, hitting his the back of his head on the court.
The game was stopped for several minutes before Hellems was taken off on a stretcher. Team spokesman Craig Hammel said Hellems had been taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary reasons to rule out a possible lower-back injury as well as to be evaluated for a possible concussion.
Childress scored a career-best 30 points to lead the Demon Deacons (5-5, 0-2), who also shot 52%. But Wake Forest committed 19 turnovers and did little to slow the Wolfpack’s offense most of the afternoon, offsetting any momentum that came from its own strong shooting.
“For us, we needed to have better ball pressure, hand to the face, contest a little bit more to discourage that confidence level starting out that high shooting the ball from behind the arc,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said.
NC State: The losses have piled up here for nearly the entirety of the 30-year history of the Joel Coliseum, several coming when the Wolfpack arrived as a favored or ranked team only to find a way to stumble. NC State had lost 23 of 29 meetings dating to the 1990-91 season before Saturday. Things went to plan up for once up until Hellems was hurt late.
“They wouldn’t know if we won 20 games or we lost 20 games here,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said of playing in Joel Coliseum. “We just locked into what we had to do to be successful.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons did little to make the Wolfpack uncomfortable defensively, with several of NC State’s seven first-half 3s coming on clean catch-and-shoot looks. Wake Forest trailed by just seven early in the second half but did relatively little to seriously ratchet up the pressure on NC State from there until the final seconds.
NC State made a season-high 12 of 22 3-pointers.
“With Wake Forest’s defense, they were crowding the paint a lot on the drive so some guys got some open looks,” Bryce said. “And we did a really good job of sharing the ball and finding an open man.”
Hellems, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, had 13 points with three 3s to continue his own strong recent play before exiting. He had 17 points in a loss to No. 15 Memphis on Nov. 28 followed by a career-high 23 points with four 3-pointers in Wednesday’s win against Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Manning’s concerns included the backboards, where the Wolfpack took a 33-29 rebounding edge and had 12 offensive boards that led to 21 second-chance points. Childress was bothered by the turnovers that led to 27 points for the Wolfpack.
“Cut that in half and you’ve got yourself a different ballgame,” Childress said.
NC State: UNC Greensboro hosts the Wolfpack next Sunday.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons host Xavier next Saturday.