RALEIGH – Ralston Turner came up with his most productive game in a N.C. uniform.
And the Wolfpack needed almost every last one of their points to hold off pesky Detroit.
T.J. Warren scored 29 points and N.C. State hung on to beat the Titans, 82-79, Saturday night for its fifth straight win.
Turner, a transfer from LSU, added a season-high 21 points for the Wolfpack (7-2) and hit six of their season-high 10 3-pointers.
N.C. State never trailed and shot 50 percent but allowed nearly all of an 18-point lead to slip away.
“(Detroit) just made big shots down at the end,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “We need to find a way, when we’re up 15, 13 points, to keep it there and extend it and not allow a team to get back in the game.”
Juwan Howard Jr. had 24 points, and Evan Bruinsma added 16 for Detroit (5-6). Ugochukwu Njoku scored 11 points for Detroit, which made it a one-possession game in the final 30 seconds – closing to 81-79 on Matthew Grant’s 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds remaining in the game.
“We got the effort,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. “We got the balls and the hustle plays and just got a lot of production from everybody.”
Warren hit a free throw with 5.9 seconds to go. Detroit had a good look on its final possession but Jarod Williams’ deep three-pointer bounced off the iron as the buzzer sounded.
“I can make that shot,” said Williams, who finished with 10 points. “It was a good look. I should have made it.”
Warren has led or shared the scoring lead in every game but one for N.C. State, which improved to 13-0 in the school’s annual heritage games at its former home – on-campus Reynolds Coliseum.
It looked like Turner had put N.C. State in complete control after he scored on three consecutive trips down court against Detroit’s zone to give the Wolfpack its largest lead.
“You know they’re capable. It’s just a matter of time,” McCallum said. “We had Turner identified, but we were slow to react. Give him credit. He got going, and his teammates did a good job of finding him.”
He hit two 3s before a jumper with just less than eight minutes to go made it 65-47.
“Anytime you’re making 3-pointers, it spreads out the defense and gives other guys opportunities to make plays,” Turner said.
But the Titans wouldn’t go away. Howard scored eight points in the final five minutes, hitting a big three with 4½ minutes to play before his drive with three minutes remaining pulled Detroit within single digits at 72-64.
His uncontested 3 from the top of the key with just under two minutes to play cut the lead to 74-69.
“That was just hard work paying off,” Howard said. “I work on those shots every day. I just have to knock them down every night.”
Bruinsma’s layup with 48.7 seconds remaining made it 77-73, and his three with 29.1 seconds to go pulled the Titans to 79-76.
Turner’s free throw with 27.7 seconds remaining made it a four-point game. After Detroit’s Carlton Brundidge was called for walking with 19.4 seconds left, Desmond Lee hit a free throw to extend the N.C. State lead to 81-76.
And then Grant’s big 3 made things even tenser.
“We didn’t get stops down the stretch,” Gottfried said. “They’re a pretty crafty team and they take the ball to the basket well.”