RALEIGH, N.C. - Jeremy Atkinson and Keith Hornsby each scored a career-high in points on Friday night, but UNC Asheville came up just short of upsetting #15 N.C. State as the Wolfpack held off the Bulldogs, 82-80 at PNC Arena.
Asheville (1-5) led most of the way before N.C. State went on a late run thanks partly to an intentional foul called on the Bulldogs on a Wolfpack basket.
Atkinson led all scorers with 28 points, while Hornsby added 23. Jon Nwannanu chipped in 10 points before fouling out with four minutes left.
Richard Howell led N.C. State (4-1) with 23 points, including two free throws with five seconds left that sealed the win. Lorenzo Brown added 18 points, while Scott Wood and C.J. Leslie finished with 14 points each.
Atkinson was 12-of-22 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and had five steals. Hornsby went 8-of-14 from the field and knocked down four 3-pointers. Trent Meyer dished out a career-best seven assists.
"I'm very disappointed with the outcome of tonight's game, but I'm really proud of how we played," stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "We did a great job hanging with N.C. State tonight and came really close to pulling this one out.
"We're still learning how to win close games," added Biedenbach. "N.C. State whipped us on the boards pretty good and also got to the free throw line a lot more than we did. "
The Wolfpack was 21-of-32 from the line, while the Bulldogs were just 8-of-9 from the line. State enjoyed a 34-19 advantage on the boards.
Asheville was clinging to a 69-68 lead when the Wolfpack came down after a Bulldog miss and got a fast-break bucket from Howell to give the home team the lead 70-69. Meyer was called for an intentional foul, giving NCSU two free throws and the ball. Howell made one free throw to push the lead to 71-69. Wood hit a jumper to give State its biggest lead of the night at 73-69.
A Meyer trey cut the lead to 73-72. But Wood answered with a 3-pointer to give the Wolfpack a 76-72 lead with 1:10 left. Three more Wolfpack free throws padded the lead to 79-72.
Asheville rallied behind Hornsby. He hit a three-pointer and scored on a three-point play to cut the lead Wolfpack lead to 80-78 with 17 seconds left.
However, N.C. State ran off 12 seconds before Howell was fouled at the five-second mark. He connected on both free throws to seal the Wolfpack win.
The Bulldogs led from start to finish in the first half. They scored the first six points of the game and maintained a small lead the rest of the opening half. Atkinson knocked down a long trey late in the first half to give Asheville its biggest lead of the game at 37-30. The Wolfpack scored the final four points of the half but the Bulldogs led 37-34 at halftime.
Atkinson led all scorers in the opening half with 11 points. Hornsby added nine points.
UNC Asheville is off until Thursday night when the Bulldogs return home to start a three-game homestand. Asheville will face Atlantic Sun favorite USC Upstate at Kimmel Arena starting at 7 p.m.