NC State falls to Notre Dame 81-72

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – V.J. Beachem scored 27 points and hit a career-high seven 3-pointers to help No. 25 Notre Dame beat North Carolina State 81-72 on Saturday in the Wolfpack’s first game since the announcement that coach Mark Gottfried is out after the season.

Bonzie Colson added 13 points for the Fighting Irish (21-7, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who kept themselves in the middle of a crowded race for a top-four finish that would secure a double-round bye in the ACC Tournament.

Notre Dame used a 9-0 run late in the first half to build a double-digit margin, led 41-28 by halftime then pushed it to 23 points from there. The Fighting Irish shot 50 percent and made 13 of 30 3-pointers.

Dennis Smith Jr. scored 16 points for N.C. State (14-14, 3-12), which thrice rallied within seven points late before suffering its seventh straight loss since last month’s upset at Duke.

This one came two days after the school announced Gottfried won’t return for a seventh season as a once-promising season continued to unravel.

Gottfried heard a smattering of boos during pregame introductions before Wednesday’s 97-73 loss to 10th-ranked rival North Carolina. He heard only cheers Saturday, though there was a smaller crowd that included at least a half-dozen empty upstairs seating sections in PNC Arena.

Notre Dame never trailed after the opening minute, with Beachem in particular finding plenty of room to operate in comfort as the Irish built that big lead.BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: Notre Dame has won four straight games to regroup from a four-game skid and keep the Fighting Irish in the hunt at the top of the league standings.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack at least fought back from the 23-point deficit to make it close, something the team hadn’t done in five other losses by at least 24 points this season.UP NEXT

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish get an eight-day break before hosting Georgia Tech on Feb. 26.

N.C. State: N.C. State visits Georgia Tech on Tuesday.

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