Funderburk, Daniels spark Wolfpack win in Bryce's absence
By NOLAN HAYES
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) North Carolina State lost its leading scorer during game-day shootaround. His teammates made sure they didn’t lose the game as well.
DJ Funderburk scored a career-high 22 points to help N.C. State beat Appalachian State 72-60 on Sunday.
Devon Daniels added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolfpack (10-3), who made just 5 of 25 3-point attempts in their final nonconference game of the regular season.
N.C. State played without C.J. Bryce, who was inadvertently hit in the face by a teammate on the final sequence of the shootaround. The team announced before tipoff that Bryce was in concussion protocol.
“He was a little bit woozy, and we wanted to make sure that he was OK,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said. “That was it. I’ve never had anybody that this happened to on game day. It’s tough because you’ve got to make adjustments on the fly.”
One game after his first triple-double, Markell Johnson had 12 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and six assists for N.C. State.
The Wolfpack led 50-48 with 8:30 remaining and pulled away with a 12-1 run over the next four minutes. Manny Bates sparked the surge with two putbacks.
“I like the way our guys responded,” Keatts said. “It was one of those games where if they weren’t prepared or if they weren’t mentally tough enough, we could have folded a little bit.”
Justin Forrest scored 25 points to lead Appalachian State (8-5). Adrian Delph added 10 points for the Mountaineers, who shot 37% from the field.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers were having a December to remember with four consecutive victories, including three on the road, and they gave a strong effort in their final game of 2019. Appalachian State played tough defense, as usual, but its season-long struggles on free throws (8 of 16) and 3-pointers (4 of 22) continued. “I’m disappointed in the result but not in my team, and that’s what I told them,” Appalachian State coach Dustin Kerns said. “I thought we did some good things tonight but certainly didn’t do enough to win, and that’s what we expected to come here and do: win.”
N.C. State: The Wolfpack aren’t as formidable without Bryce, of course, but they proved they have enough depth and versatility to survive in his absence. N.C. State missed several open 3-point tries, but its work on the offensive glass (22-10 advantage on second-chance points) was the difference in the game.
In game that featured poor shooting, Funderburk stood out with his 10-for-14 performance. He feasted around the basket and got significant minutes at power forward next to Bates, rather than the two of them sharing the center position. Funderburk tied a career high with nine rebounds, but he pointed to the double-doubles by Daniels and Johnson as just as important to N.C. State’s effort.
“It wasn’t just all me,” he said. “It just goes to show that everybody on our team can play and that everybody on our team is very good, which is why we belong to be talked about in the ACC.”
N.C. State started 2 of 3 from 3-point range in the game’s first five minutes. But the Wolfpack made just one of their next 19 3-point tries before Daniels hit a 3-pointer with 5:36 remaining to give them a 61-49 lead.
Bates blocked five shots in 24 minutes, giving him multiple blocks in each of the Wolfpack’s 13 games. … Forrest has scored at least 25 points in three consecutive games and has made at least one 3-pointer in every game this season. … N.C. State guard Braxton Beverly scored six points on 2-of-11 shooting, all 3-point attempts. He missed his final nine shots of the game.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers return home for a three-game homestand, which begins Thursday night against Georgia State.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack play at Clemson, where they haven’t won since 2015, on Saturday afternoon.
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Updated December 29, 2019