T.J. Warren scored 17 points and North Carolina State outscored Notre Dame 25-9 at the free-throw line to beat the Fighting Irish 77-70 Tuesday night.
The Wolfpack (11-4, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had squandered double-digit leads in two of their previous three games — and nearly did in the other one also — allowed the Irish to use a 12-3 run in the second half to tie the score at 54. But N.C. State never let the Irish get the lead in the second half.
It was the first loss in three games for the Irish (10-5, 1-1) since leading scorer Jerian Grant was dismissed from school for an academic violation.
Anthony "Cat" Barber added 16 points for the Wolfpack, Desmond Lee and Ralston Turner added 12 each and the Wolfpack bench outscored the reserves 23-9.
Garrick Sherman led the Irish with 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Pat Connaughton had 15 and Eric Atkins 14.
Lee got the Wolfpack going in the second half when he answered a 3-pointer by Connaughton with a 3 of his own, launching a 9-2 run by the Wolfpack. He followed that up with a pair of free throws and then Barber drove inside for a layup. Barber tried to go inside for another layup that was blocked by Austin Burgett. But Jordan Vandenberg scored on the rebound to give the Wolfpack their largest lead at 51-42.
Tom Knight made a pair of dunks and Connaughton hit a 3 to start an Irish rally. The Irish had a chance to cut the lead to 53-49 only to have Knight's undefended dunk attempt clanked off the rim. But the Irish tied it moments later at 54 on a 3 by Connaughton capped a 12-3 run.
The Wolfpack responded with a jumper and a basket inside by Warren and moments later Turner converted on a three-point play when he was fouled on a fast break to give the Wolfpack a 66-59 lead.
The Irish used a 7-3 run to cut the lead to 69-66 when Steve Vasturia hit a 3-pointer with 1:29 left. But the Irish never got any closer as the Wolfpack made 8 of 10 free throws to hold on, making 25 of 32 free throws for the game.
The Wolfpack also forced the Irish into 11 turnovers and had a 16-10 advantage in points off turnovers. N.C. State, which lost its ACC opener 74-62 to Pittsburgh on Saturday, improved to 3-0 in road openers under coach Mark Gottfried.