EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Gonzaga finally got its marquee victory.
Tony Skinner scored 14 points and Cory Violette added 12 as the Bulldogs used strong defense for a 69-60 victory over No. 25 North Carolina State in the Jimmy V Classic.
Gonzaga (6-3) has played an ambitious schedule that has included losses to Kentucky, Indiana and Sunday's 95-83 defeat to Georgia.
In dire need of a strong non-conference victory to bolster their NCAA Tournament profile, the Bulldogs limited the Wolfpack to six baskets in the first half and stifled them throughout.
"This was a pretty serious gut check," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Georgia's a really good team, they've just played a tough schedule. We've been playing well. It was good to get positive feedback in the win column."
"Toughest non-conference sked we've had," Bulldogs guard Blake Stepp added. "We've been all over the place."
A 3-pointer by Stepp triggered eight straight points that gave Gonzaga the lead for good at 54-47 with 7:15 remaining. Kyle Bankhead added a 3-pointer and Richard Fox threw in a hook to cap the run.
North Carolina State (5-1) got within 58-55 on a 3-pointer by Levi Watkins with 3:20 remaining. But Ronny Turiaf made a pair at the line and Violette scored off a nifty feed from Stepp to restore a seven-point cushion.
The Wolfpack had used their "Princeton" offense to easily dispatch five opponents at home. But the Bulldogs concentrated on taking away backdoor cuts, forcing NC State to beat them from the perimeter. The Wolfpack shot 31 percent (11-of-35) from 3-point range.
"They were really packing it in," NC State coach Herb Sendek said. "We made 11 (3-pointers), we probably needed to get 15. We could've exercised some more patience."
Fox grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds as Gonzaga pounded NC State on the boards, 61-35. Violette grabbed eight and Skinner and Stepp each had seven while no member of the Wolfpack had more than seven.
"A lot of teams get tired, especially when we bang inside like that," Violette said. "We came in, we delivered the first blow."
"I think they really put a pounding on us on the boards, that was pretty obvious," Sendek said. "They're a big, strong, physical team."
NC State was content to start its offense 30 feet from the basket but had trouble finding good looks inside 15 feet.
Gonzaga's defense was particularly tough on the Wolfpack's leading scorer, Julius Hodge. The Bronx native missed his first seven shots and finished with 14 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
Skinner scored eight points in the first half to help Gonzaga build a 32-27 halftime lead. The Wolfpack complied by shooting a dismal 19 percent (6-of-31), including a 4-of-17 display from beyond the arc.
Hodge nailed his first shot with a 3-pointer to begin the second half and later added back-to-back 3-pointers for a 40-38 lead with just under 17 minutes remaining.
Bankhead came off the bench and scored all 10 of his points in the second half, including a 3-pointer for a 46-44 advantage with 11:18 to go.
But Hodge was held in check for most of the night and Sendek indicated he may have been pressing in his first game back in his home area. Scooter Sherrill picked up the slack by draining six 3-pointers for a career-high 22 points to lead all scorers.
"We wanted to help each other out," Few said. "We were really concerned about Sherrill and (Marcus) Melvin. Their offense can really spread you out."
NC State was playing its first game away from home in its first appearance in the event named after coach Jim Valvano, who led the Wolfpack to the 1983 national title.