When Dennis Horner hit the RBC Center hardwood with 18:13 left in Saturday’s game with Boston College, he got up with blood streaming down the right side of his face. Head coach Sidney Lowe said he wasn’t sure if the senior forward would return.
Return he did. All it took was a few stitches and some super glue. Horner proceeded to score 10 points in the final 10:55 to lead the Wolfpack past Boston College 66-54 on senior day. Horner finished with 14 points. Junior forward Tracy Smith led NC State with a game-high 19 points while CJ Williams added 14 of his own.
“I heard it and I walked out there and saw the blood, I was concerned,” Lowe said. “I didn’t know if he was coming back out or not and the next thing I knew he was sitting right there on the bench and I saw him and said ‘Jesus kid let’s go in the game’. It definitely was a scary moment.”
Horner said the hard foul by Boston College’s Josh Southern wasn’t a dirty play despite the result.
“I just landed, and I guess it landed right there and split it open,” Horner said of the gash just above his right eyebrow. “That’s basketball.”
Julius Mays, who scored six points and dished out four assists in 23 minutes, said he wasn’t a bit surprised to see Horner come back in the game and play well after everything he’s been through this season with injuries.
“Typical Dennis,” Mays said with a smile. “He’s always taking hard falls, getting hurt and staying hurt. Bad knees, always sick. To see him come back and play through it on senior night and knock down two or three big shots was a great feeling.”
While NC State ended up on a positive note, picking up its third win in four games, the beginning of senior night started about as poor as it could have. NC State turned the ball over six times in the first 4 minutes and 47 seconds and let BC get out to a six point lead at 8-2.
“Senior day didn’t start off well for us but I thought the guys did a good job coming off the bench and when those first unit guys came back in they continued to play well,” Lowe said.”Great, great effort on our teams part. We had a lot of guys that really contributed.”
After struggling for the first six minutes, NC State played well for the remainder of the game, using a 19 to five run to close out the game and the regular season. The Wolfpack did not commit a single turnover in the decisive second half and finished with just 10 for the game. Farnold Degand, the other senior honored prior to Saturday’s game, finished with one point in 15 minutes.
“The last couple of games in the ACC we’ve been clicking and when everyone is rolling we can play with anybody in the country,” Horner said. “We beat Duke, Wake Forest, at Florida State and at Marquette it shows that we can play with people. We’re just rolling into the tournament confident.”
Lowe said it’s good to see the team playing well late in the year after having suffered through tough losses early in the year and during the ACC season. He said his team is starting to figure out what it takes.
“We’re figuring out some things about ourselves and how we have to play to win. We’ve played better lately. We’re playing better than we played early in conference play and this is a little momentum for us,” he said. “It’s something to take into the tournament. It’s definitely a positive.”
NC State will take the court in the first round of the ACC Tournament Thursday night at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Raycom.