RALEIGH, N.C. — A week after turning in a clunker to give away a winnable league game, North Carolina State wouldn't squander a similar opportunity to build more momentum in Mark Gottfried's first season.
Scott Wood scored 16 points Thursday night to help the Wolfpack beat Boston College 76-62, the second straight one-sided victory for a team off to its best start in Atlantic Coast Conference play in six years.
C.J. Leslie added 14 points to help the Wolfpack (14-5, 3-1), who ran off 15 straight points to take control and pushed the lead to 18 by late in the first half. N.C. State cruised the rest of the way, leading by as many as 24 to earn its eighth win in nine games.
It was exactly the kind of focused performance the Wolfpack lacked in last week's home loss to Georgia Tech — and one the team will need with five of the next seven on the road.
"I liked a lot about how our team played tonight," Gottfried said.
The Wolfpack shot 52 percent, including 58 percent in a first half with plenty of transition chances — often off turnovers by the mistake-prone Eagles (7-11, 2-2). N.C. State led 45-28 at the break and never let BC closer than 16 points until the final minute. The defense forced 17 turnovers and racked up 16 steals while BC shot just 40 percent.
"We came out with the intensity level we need to come out with every game," said Richard Howell, who had 11 points and 16 rebounds. "We didn't wait until 8 minutes left in the first half to come out and play hard."
The biggest concern afterward was the health of senior C.J. Williams, who injured his right shoulder with about 9 minutes left and spent the rest of the game on the bench wearing a bulky bandage. Gottfried said Williams will have an MRI on Friday morning and will also have X-rays.
N.C. State hadn't started 3-1 in the ACC since Herb Sendek's final season in 2006, which also marked the program's last NCAA tournament appearance. The Wolfpack compiled a 25-55 ACC record under former point guard Sidney Lowe in the past five seasons and didn't finish higher than ninth in that span.
Last year, N.C. State didn't have its third league victory until the middle of February.
The Wolfpack has lost just once since falling to top-ranked Syracuse at home on Dec. 17. The team looked surprisingly flat in the 82-71 loss here to the Yellow Jackets on Jan. 11, but came back with a 36-point romp at Wake Forest last weekend.
This time, Howell and Leslie looked active while leading a front line that got plenty of good looks in the paint, while Lorenzo Brown (11 assists) pushed the ball in transition to keep the Wolfpack on the attack. Meanwhile, N.C. State's defenders kept slapping the ball loose from the Eagles to hinder their already limited offense.
It marked N.C. State's first back-to-back victories by double-digit margins against league opponents since the 2005 ACC tournament.
"We definitely had to come out with a lot of energy," Leslie said. "We definitely knew that once we got this lead, we had to keep this lead. The main focus was to learn from the Georgia Tech game and not make the same mistakes."
Dennis Clifford scored 12 to lead the Eagles, who erased an early 10-point deficit to tie the game at 21. But five different N.C. State players scored during the 15-0 spurt that put BC away early.
"I think we always talk about keeping our poise in any situation and in that stretch they put pressure on us and we kind of lost our poise and got out of our execution," said Ryan Anderson, who scored seven on 3-for-11 shooting for the Eagles.
Boston College ended its 6-minute drought with a 3-pointer from Jordan Daniels, but N.C. State answered with a turnaround jumper from Williams, a transition layup from Howell and a reverse layup by Leslie that made it 42-24 with about 90 seconds left before halftime.
"For the first time in about a month and a half," BC coach Steve Donahue said, "I thought we didn't have much resistance in that stretch."
The Wolfpack opened the second half with six straight points, including consecutive baskets from Williams that made it 51-28 and forced Donahue to burn a timeout. By that point, N.C. State had outscored Boston College 30-7 over a 12-minute span.