Mark Gottfried was as animated during N.C. State’s 65-56 win against Maryland on Monday night as he has been at any point during the season, and maybe even in any game in three seasons with the Wolfpack.

The Wolfpack’s coach wasn’t excited just because his team won, 65-56, or because it was his birthday, rather it was the way his team won. Worn down mentally by recent losses, trailing by 11 points early in the second half and without the services of its best player, N.C. State kept competing.

It’s a message of perseverance that Gottfried has been trying to impart to his young team with mixed results. That his team kept fighting, and was rewarded with a win, was enough for Gottfried to put his exuberance on full display.

Gottfried compared this season, with a new roster, to building a house and said these games were part of the foundation.

“We’ve got these young guys and they are going to get better as they get older,” Gottfried said.

“We all want it to happen right now. I do. I want to be great today, tomorrow, but they are young. Sometimes what happened at Duke, it happens, or what happened in our Virginia game.

“The most important thing for our guys is, regardless of win or lose, is to keep competing all the time.”

That’s what the Pack did Monday with junior Ralston Turner stepping in for injured T.J. Warren and putting up 23 points. As important, guards Cat Barber and Desmond Lee put their recent struggles behind and keyed the comeback early in the second half.

Barber finished with 13 points and four assists in 34 minutes and Lee added 14 points and four steals in 36 minutes. Add in the rebounding of forward Kyle Washington (10) and the defense of forward BeeJay Anya (four blocks) and there were enough contributions to give the Wolfpack hope that if it can duplicate the effort from Monday, it can reinvigorate its season.

With Georgia Tech (Sunday) and Florida State (Jan. 29) next on the schedule and both at home, the Pack has a chance to even its ACC record.

It can’t do that without figuring out a way to move forward, with Warren, and by keeping up its confidence and intensity.