RALEIGH, N.C. - Cameron Bennerman made all 12 free throws on his way to a career-high 26 points, Engin Atsur tied a season high with 18 and No. 14 North Carolina State rallied to beat Wake Forest, 92-82 on Saturday.
Ilian Evtimov added 13 points for the Wolfpack (15-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who improved to 12-0 at home. They also avoided their first losing streak of the season after a loss at No. 1 Duke on Wednesday.
In that one, N.C. State was outscored 16-3 down the stretch of a 13-point loss, but there were no such problems Saturday. The Wolfpack sprinted from the final tie at 64-64 and eventually increased the margin to 12 points in the final 60 seconds.
Eric Williams had 19 points for the Demon Deacons (12-6, 1-4), while teammate Michael Drum came off the bench for a career-high 18. But Justin Gray, who averaged 30 points over the previous three games, finished 5-for-22 from the field and had 14 points.
Gray's frustration was evident in the final minute, when he heaved his gum into the crowd.
Wake Forest led by 13 late in the first half before the Wolfpack rallied, with a Bennerman three-point play and Tony Bethel 3-pointer sandwiched around a layup by Evtimov. That cut the deficit to five at the break, and the final 20 minutes were close all the way.
After three ties, N.C. State took its first lead at 60-58 when Bennerman converted a steal into an easy basket. The Deacons pulled even three more times before the Wolfpack took over, helped when Chris Ellis fouled out with nearly 6 minutes left.
Ellis started for the second consecutive game - his first two of the season - and contributed seven points, eight rebounds and three blocks before halftime. Each of his three baskets were acrobatic, high-energy dunks.
But he played only 21 foul-plagued minutes, and his absence forced Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser to use essentially four guards. N.C. State had little trouble scoring in the final minutes to pull away.
Atsur used a nifty pass from Andrew Brackman to score in close to give the Wolfpack the lead for good at 66-64. Following a tip-in by Evtimov, Drum scored to bring Wake Forest within two for the final time.
Astur again got free for a layup, Brackman converted a pair of free throws and Bethel jumped in the passing lane for a steal and layup to make it 74-66.
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