RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Richard Howell scored a career-high 17 points in his first start in nearly two months, and North Carolina State beat Miami 72-70 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.
Tracy Smith added 16 points and Scott Wood finished with 10 for the Wolfpack (12-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). They blew a 17-point lead but made two critical stops in the final 30 seconds to extend Miami’s road woes.
Malcolm Grant scored 23 points and Reggie Johnson added 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Hurricanes (12-7, 1-4), whose 12th straight ACC road loss wasn’t decided until the final buzzer.
Miami had the ball down 71-70 in the closing seconds but Ryan Harrow stole the ball from Durand Scott with 20 seconds left. C.J. Williams hit a free throw with 15.9 seconds left to make it a two-point game, then had a hand in the play that prevented overtime.
With time winding down, Grant drove the left baseline and tried to feed the ball to Johnson in the paint. Smith and Williams broke up the pass and the horn sounded with players for both teams diving on the ball.
Scott finished with 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting for Miami, which fell to 1-5 on the road this season and remained winless against N.C. State at the RBC Center.
The Hurricanes got hot down the stretch, scoring on 12 consecutive trips downcourt as part of their frenetic 32-14 rally that gave them their first lead since midway through the first half. Grant hit three 3s and scored 11 points during the burst that Scott capped with a layup with 1:04 left that put Miami up 70-69.
Smith followed with a putback with 44 seconds to play to give N.C. State the lead for good, and held on to claim their first win since a 90-68 rout of last-place Wake Forest on Jan. 8. N.C. State followed that win with losses to three of the league’s top four teams: Boston College, Florida State and No. 4 Duke.
Lorenzo Brown finished with 10 points and gave the Wolfpack their largest lead when his three-point play with 12:33 left capped a 14-4 run and made it 55-38.
N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe shook up his starting lineup, sending two freshmen to the bench and giving a third a rare start. Harrow made his second start in place of senior Javi Gonzalez, while C.J. Leslie and Brown came off the bench. Williams earned his second start and Howell started for the first time since Dec. 4.
Miami, which lost for the fourth time in five games, hasn’t won an ACC road game since beating Virginia on Feb. 26, 2009.
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