CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- No longer the pushover, Boston College played the role of the scrappy, energized underdog during Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference opener against No. 23 North Carolina State.
After losing all three contests between the two schools last year by a combined 40 points, the explosive Eagles (8-6), who started five underclassmen, had their chances down the stretch, but not enough conversions as NC State hung on for a 78-73 win.
Wolfpack senior Scott Wood returned from the bench late in the second half and spotted up a pair of 3-pointers in the game's final minutes to seal NC State's eighth straight win.
BC sophomore Ryan Anderson, who has made a strong transition from power forward to center for the Eagles, had a game-high 22 points.
Rodney Purvis led the Wolfpack with a career-high 19 points. Wood finished with 12.
"Usually when you do well against someone, usually they shut you out the next time," said Wood, who helped end the Eagles' season last year by scoring 22 points in a 78-57 win during the ACC tournament. "That's the way it works. They did a really good job defensively against us. And they're going to get better."
Wood, who temporarily left the game in the first half after getting smacked in the face by the elbow of Ryan Anderson, battled foul trouble in the second half. He picked up his fourth foul with 14:33 to play as he forced coach Mark Gottfried to get creative with his playing time.
With the game in a high-paced flow, and transition buckets and referee whistles coming in machine-like consistency, it didn't bode well for a spot-shooter like Wood, who finished the game with a season-low 23 minutes.
Called off the bench with 5:02 left, after sitting for almost 10 minutes of game play, Wood broke a 64-64 tie with a smooth trey.
Then with 50 seconds left and the Wolfpack clinging to a 69-68 lead, Wood got a screen from Richard Howell and put up a 3-pointer that gave NC State a four-point lead.
"The first one I was a little anxious about, just because that was my first actual good look," said Wood, the leader among all active ACC players with 266. "But as I knocked one down, I had my confidence. And the rest of them felt all right."
For Boston College, Anderson led the charge. As the lone big on the floor in Steve Donahue's four-guard offense, Anderson was a one-man rebounding machine, hauling in 13 rebounds, including eight in the first half.
With 7-foot sophomore Dennis Clifford shelved with a right ankle and left knee injury that has left him with limited playing time, Anderson has slid over to the center position and impressed, allowing Donahue to feel more comfortable with the four-guard offense that thrives off shooting 3-pointers.
But the Eagles, who entered the game leading the ACC in 3-point attempts -- with 278 in 13 games -- were just 7 for 22 from downtown.
"One thing with them," Gottfried said, "we felt like if they could make 10, 11, 12 (3-pointers) -- which they have a couple times this year -- they're obviously a lot better."
Clifford, who finished with five points and five rebounds in 24 minutes, entered midway through the first half and gave the Eagles a temporary boost, but the Wolfpack was still able to find easy buckets inside, scoring 20 of its 29 first-half points, and 34 overall, in the paint.
The teams exchanged buckets for most of the second half until Wood knocked down the treys to push the Wolfpack in front.
BC's Patrick Heckmann was fouled by Purvis on a 3-point attempt to tie the game with 19 seconds left but missed one of his three free throws.
Joe Rahon then watched his 3-pointer to tie things up with two seconds left bounce just wide. Wood iced the game with four straight free throws.
"We want to be an elite team in the ACC as we build the program," BC coach Donahue said. "I know we need to get better. I know we need to add pieces. But I appreciate what all of our guys are doing right now and I think we can be a very good basketball team."
NOTES: Anderson posted his fourth double-double of the year and eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the sixth time this season. ... The last time the Wolfpack opened its ACC schedule with a road win was Dec. 4, 1997, when it beat Georgia Tech 71-69. ... NC State was 4-for-11 from the free-throw line in the first half but finished 25 for 35. ... The Wolfpack is 11-0 this season when leading at halftime.