Wolfpack Upends Cavaliers In ACC Tournament Semis, 79-71
March 9, 2007
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Sidney Lowe predicted something special was going to happen in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The North Carolina State coach couldn't be sure which team might make a surprising run in the league's showcase event, but history told him at least one of the lower seeds would throw the bracket out of whack.
Lowe's 10th-seeded Wolfpack is that team this year.
Gavin Grant scored nine of his 20 points in the final two minutes and N.C State rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to pull off its second straight upset, a 79-71 victory over Virginia on Friday night.
A night after ending Duke's reign as tourney champions, the Wolfpack (17-14) rode Grant and Brandon Costner into the semifinals by shooting 74 percent and outscoring the second-seeded Cavaliers (20-10) 53-31 in the second half.
"Pretty much, we have nothing to lose," Costner said. "We feel like we can compete with anybody in the ACC. ... We're just coming out to win the tournament."
Costner finished with 22 points after delivering a career-high 30 in his team's 85-80 overtime victory over seventh-seeded Duke. Virginia was the No. 2 seed after tying North Carolina for the league's best regular-season record.
"We got thoroughly outplayed in the second half," Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. "They continued, like yesterday, to shoot the ball well. But the reason they shot the ball well was because we stopped defending, stopped doing the things we had done in the first half."
Virginia led 40-26 at the break. Grant began the Wolfpack's comeback with a layup in the opening minute of the second half, and later made a 3-pointer to finish a 31-12 run that turned their double-digit deficit into a 57-52 lead.
The 6-foot-7 junior took over the game after an offensive foul on Mamadi Diane denied Virginia a basket that would have made it 68-all with 1:55 remaining. He followed a layup with a long 3-pointer to make it 73-66, then scored his team's next four points from the foul line.
"I think you saw his confidence was building every time he touched the basketball," Lowe said. "In the first half he was rushing a little bit, trying to create too much. In the second half ... he allowed it to come to him."
Sean Singletary led Virginia with 23 points, however he only had seven in the second half. J.R. Reynolds missed 8 of his first 9 shots and finished 3-of-15 for 11 points. Diane added 10 for the Cavaliers, who beat N.C. State twice this season.
The Wolfpack shot 33 percent in the opening half and hardly resembled the team that bounced Duke from the tournament. They stormed back by making 17 of 23 shots after halftime, with Grant and Costner getting offensive help from Engin Atsur and Ben McCauley.
McCauley finished with 12 points and Atsur had 10.
"The conference is pretty tough. On any given night, any team can win. If you don't bring your game, you'll probably be in trouble," Singletary said. "We played good for a half. But hey came out with a lot more energy than us in the second half."