NC State Wins its Third-Straight ACC Tournament Game as it Pushes Past Virginia Tech, 72-64
March 10, 2007
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - First-year coach Sidney Lowe, his red jacket and North Carolina State are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Gavin Grant scored 20 points, Courtney Fells added 16 and the Wolfpack beat Virginia Tech 72-64 on Saturday for their third upset in as many days at the league's signature event.
Grant was 4-of-9 from the field, but perfect (11-of-11) from the free throw line. And free throw shooting proved to be the difference in this one.
The 10th-seeded Wolfpack (18-14) made 24 of 28 free throws, while the third-seeded Hokies (21-11) were 8-of-19 from the stripe.
North Carolina State advanced to face eighth-ranked and top-seeded North Carolina in the title game Sunday. The teams split their two regular-season meetings, but the Wolfpack have been on a roll since losing six of eight games to close out the regular season.
Maybe it was the jacket - the red blazer Lowe first donned in a win against rival North Carolina in early February. He broke it out again in the tournament, and his team followed with wins against Duke and Virginia in the first two rounds. This one might have been even more impressive, especially since they were playing a third straight day.
State led by as many as 10 points late in the first half, but looked like it might fade early in the second half. Virginia Tech used a 10-4 run coming out of the locker room to tie the game at 35.
But Grant - much like he did against Virginia when he scored nine points in the final 2 minutes - took over. The 6-foot-7 forward touched the ball nearly every time down the floor, drove inside, drew fouls and got to the free throw line.
His impressive shooting from the stripe was somewhat surprising since he entered the game as a 74-percent free throw shooter.
Fells helped out, too. He made a baseline jumper with about 6 minutes remaining that doubled a two-point lead. His 3-pointer with 1:33 to play was even bigger, making it 61-52.
Tech could have kept it close, but Coleman Collins and Jamon Gordon missed the front end of a one-and-one from the free throw line. Collins did it twice.
Gordon led Tech with 12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Wolfpack were nearly perfect from the stripe down the stretch - Grant made six in row in the final 3 minutes, and Ben McCauley sank all four of his.
The winners shot 53 percent from the game and were 6-of-13 from the 3-point line. They overcame 17 turnovers and no offensive rebounds with the hot shooting - from the floor and the free throw line.