RALEIGH, N.C. – St. Bonaventure didn’t get much out of its two best players — not nearly what North Carolina State’s top player gave the Wolfpack.
C.J. Leslie scored a career-high 33 points against the Bonnies in No. 25 N.C. State’s 92-73 win on Saturday.
The Bonnies’ leading scorers, Chris Johnson and Demitrius Conger, combined for 14 points — half their averages — and that wasn’t good enough for coach Mark Schmidt. They average roughly 14 points apiece but combined to shoot 5 of 18.
“In a game of this magnitude, your best players have to play well,” Schmidt said. “That’s not good enough when you play a team of this caliber.”
Eric Mosley had 18 points and Youssou Ndoye added career highs of 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Bonnies (7-4), who were outscored 50-24 in the paint, shot just 40.6 percent, never got closer than 12 in the second half and had their two-game winning streak snapped.
The reigning Atlantic 10 champions had won their previous two games by a combined 74 points but were denied in their attempt to match their best start since opening 8-3 in 2001-02.
Much of that was due to Leslie.
“Calvin was tough to guard today,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said, referring to Leslie by his first name. “I thought when he attacked the rim and was aggressive, he either scored or got fouled.”
Scott Wood added a season-best 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and Lorenzo Brown had a season-high 11 assists for the Wolfpack (9-2).
The nation’s most accurate shooting team shot 57 percent, never trailed and now heads into its weeklong holiday break on a five-game winning streak.
“The main thing is that we have games where it may be one guy, and lately I feel like it’s been all of us — all the leaders and upperclassmen, it’s been all of us playing well to a certain extent,” Leslie said. “It may be that one person is getting a little bit more and the other person can’t get it, but we all have stepped up and led and played fairly well these last couple games.”
Brown finished two assists shy of his career-high 13 set last December against Syracuse. In building upon his previous season best — a 17-point performance last time out in the win over Stanford — Wood made his first eight shots before missing a 3-pointer midway through the second half.
“I saw the sheet and I was like, ‘If I screw this up, I’m going to be mad,'” Wood said. “And right when I shot that one, I was like, ‘That was a little short.’ I knew.”
Leslie, who beat the Bonnies last year on a last-second layup, took care of them much earlier this time, in the process surpassing his previous high of 24 points set last season against North Carolina.
“When Leslie plays the way he played today,” Schmidt said, “they’re hard to beat.”
During the highest-scoring day for an N.C. State player since J.J. Hickson had 33 points against Western Carolina in 2008, Leslie was 10 of 13 from the field and 13 of 18 at the free throw line.
“I just wanted to come out and be aggressive,” he said. “I know we have some very important games coming up and it’s time to get a little bit more serious. Not saying I wasn’t serious earlier, but it’s time to buckle down and really get with the plan.”
He locked up his seventh straight double-figure game well before halftime, scoring 18 points in the opening 20 minutes and throwing the pass that had PNC Arena buzzing.
Leslie poked the ball free from the Bonnies near midcourt and chased it down in the left corner before dribbling toward the basket and lobbing a perfect alley-oop for Brown — whose two-handed slam made it 26-18 with 6:25 before the break. That game-defining play came early in the 17-4 run midway through the half that broke this one open.