RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State saved itself from another defeat by defending the 3-point line and getting the ball to its biggest players.
Three Wolfpack players had double-doubles in an 81-69 victory over Robert Morris on Tuesday night.
Abdul-Malik Abu finished with 15 points for the Wolfpack (9-3). They shot 43 percent and built a 48-38 rebounding advantage in bouncing back from a loss to UNC Greensboro three days earlier that snapped a 20-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents.
"They made so many 3s that we thought if we just took that away, which we did in the second half, it would just make things easier for us," Yurtseven said. "They missed a lot of 3s -- we made them miss a lot of 3s."
Robert Morris (6-6) led for nearly 30 minutes before the Wolfpack took control down the stretch, holding the Colonials without a field goal for four crucial minutes.
"Their size and strength really affected us," Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said. "It's one thing to have the size and strength affect you. It's a second thing to not do what we work on every day. ... Those were some of the plays that were really killer, when they were able to build their lead."
Yurtseven broke a 57-all tie with a hook shot with just over seven minutes remaining, and that started the 12-1 run that gave N.C. State its first double-figure lead. Abu's slam of an alley-oop feed from Braxton Beverly made it 68-58 with 4 1/2 minutes to play.
"Thank goodness we can throw the ball inside to our post guys and get some baskets," coach Kevin Keatts said.
Robert Morris: The Colonials certainly looked capable of beating a power-conference opponent for the first time since their memorable upset of Kentucky in the 2013 NIT, despite a deficiency in a key stat. Robert Morris entered tied for ninth in Division I with a plus-3.45 turnover margin, but finished this one with 13 giveaways and only 12 takeaways. That illustrates what hot shooting -- and, for that matter, cold shooting -- from 3-point range can mean.
McConnell "got some really good looks, and he knocked them down, and that was a real positive," Toole said. "The second half, I thought N.C. State did a good job of really trying to deny us, get us off that 3-point line, and I don't think we adjusted as well as we'd have liked to."
N.C. State: Two losses to mid-major programs in less than a week would have been less than ideal for Keatts in his first year, but that looked like a very real possibility with Yurtseven battling foul trouble for much of the night. The Colonials didn't have anyone who could match up with the 7-footer, and it was no coincidence that his return midway through the second half coincided with N.C. State taking command.
"Losing the UNCG game, you learn a lesson," Keatts said, "but you would rather learn a lesson through a win. We learned a lesson through the first half."
Robert Morris was 7 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half, but just 3 of 18 from long distance in the second half. The Colonials shot 50 percent overall in the opening 20 minutes compared to just 25 percent in the last 20. The Wolfpack have allowed 22 total 3-pointers in their last two games.
Robert Morris: The Colonials play host to Canisius on Friday night.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack play host to Jacksonville on Friday night in their last game before ACC play begins.
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