Feb 22, 2004
By JAY COHEN
Associated Press Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina State gave coach Herb Sendek two of the best presents he could have wanted on his 41st birthday.
A victory, and then a party in the locker room.
Marcus Melvin scored 16 points and Scooter Sherrill added 13 to help the 13th-ranked Wolfpack hold off Washington 77-72 on Sunday. Afterward the team sang "Happy Birthday" to Sendek in the locker room.
"I can tell you our choir, our glee club, has nothing to worry about," Sendek said of the singing performance.
Ilian Evtimov added 12 points for the Wolfpack (17-6), who improved to 14-0 at home this season. They also improved to 41-4 against non-conference opponents at the RBC Center by winning the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Bobby Jones scored 22 points for Washington (13-10), which has lost 24 straight games on the road against ranked teams. Their last road win against a ranked team was an 80-78 overtime victory over then-No. 14 Arizona on Feb. 1, 1996.
"When they needed it, their guys they count on hit big shots," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "I can really see how their opponents have matchup problems with them. Melvin and Evtimov can hit big shots."
The Wolfpack battled back from an eight-point deficit in the second half. Melvin scored inside to spark a 14-3 run that gave them a 64-60 lead with 5:38 remaining.
Washington had a chance to win but Brandon Roy missed a jumper with 19 seconds left and the score tied. Melvin and Cameron Bennerman each made two free throws after Roy's miss to provide the final margin for N.C. State.
"We were taken to the edge by an outstanding Washington team," Sendek said of the Huskies, who have won eight of their last 10 games. "You can see why they're one of the hottest teams in the country right now."
Julius Hodge had 11 points and six rebounds and reserve Jordan Collins had 10 points for N.C. State, which outrebounded Washington 40-36 and has won six of its last seven games.
Nate Robinson finished with 13 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies.
The Wolfpack, who scored a season-low 19 points in the first half of a 60-55 loss to Clemson on Wednesday, didn't fare much better against the Huskies in the early going.
Sherrill hit a 3-pointer to get N.C. State a 19-16 lead with 12:08 left but the Wolfpack then went scoreless for more than 6 minutes. Tre Simmons hit a jumper in the final seconds of the first half to give Washington a 34-31 lead.
Jones had 13 points as the Huskies held N.C. State to 37.5 percent shooting from the field in the first half, leaving the Wolfpack exasperated at times with their offensive problems.
"The ball hasn't been falling for us lately but you see Ilian Evtimov and Engin Atsur, Scooter Sherrill, guys like that just kept shooting the basketball," Melvin said. "They started falling towards the end of the game."
The Wolfpack shot 48 percent and committed only three turnovers in the second half. N.C. State went 13-of-19 from the free throw line in the second half, compared to 1-of-2 in the opening 20 minutes.
"We weren't sharp. We weren't making each other better the way our team has to be," Sendek said of the first half. "We took some quick, ill-advised shots and I didn't have a real good taste in my mouth at halftime, I really didn't.
"Fortunately for us we were able to turn the tide a little bit in the second half."