RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Torin Dorn scored 19 points, Eric Lockett made two key free throws in the final seconds and North Carolina State held on to beat Mercer 78-74 on Saturday night.
C.J. Bryce added 17 points and Markell Johnson had 16 to help the Wolfpack (6-0). They shot 45 percent, led by 15 with 7½ minutes to play and withstood Mercer’s late rally to begin a season with six straight wins for the first time since 2014-15.
“Not every game is going to be a blowout,” Dorn said. “We’re going to play a lot of close games this season and we’ve got to be ready for that and be able to play and win those games too.”
Djordje Dimitrijevic had 25 points to lead the Bears (3-3). After Braxton Beverly missed two free throws with 14.9 seconds to play, Dimitrijevic went coast to coast for a layup that made it 76-74.
Mercer then fouled Lockett, who hit two free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining to effectively seal it.
Jaylen Stowe had 15 points and Ross Cummings finished with 13 for the Bears, who shot 52 percent.
Mercer: The Bears had won three of four entering their first matchup with a power-conference opponent, and could have packed it in after allowing the Wolfpack to begin the second half with a 15-2 run that left them down by 18. With Southern Conference play fast approaching, they can build on their late-game rally in Raleigh.
“Our guys played their tails off,” Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said. “They gave everything they could to me. I wish I could have helped them a little more to finish it. (N.C. State coach Kevin) Keatts made a couple of good adjustments and we made some. They just made the last adjustment that worked.”
N.C. State: The Wolfpack haven’t been tested much during their early-season winning streak, winning their first five games by an average of nearly 39 points. They proved capable of handling their first real dose of late-game pressure, and that should help them going forward — when the degree of difficulty increases significantly with games against No. 25 Wisconsin and No. 8 Auburn in the near future.
“We needed a game where we had to really finish the game,” Keatts said. “When you look at the first five games we played, they were a little lopsided. We did have the opportunity to try and execute at the end of the game.”
N.C. State shot just 55 percent (16 of 29) from the free-throw line. … Mercer made just three of its 12 3-pointers. … Dimitrijevic hit all 11 of his free throws. … The Bears had as many turnovers (23) as they did made field goals but kept themselves in the game by hitting 25 of 34 free throws.
Bryce, a transfer from UNC Wilmington, reached the 1,000-point mark for his career. … Dorn has led the Wolfpack in scoring in five of the six games.
Mercer had reason to feel comfortable at PNC Arena. This was the site of the biggest victory in program history — a 78-71 upset of third-seeded Duke as a No. 14 seed in their 2014 NCAA Tournament opener.
Mercer: Plays host to Brewton-Parker of the NAIA on Tuesday night.
N.C. State: Visits Wisconsin on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
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