N.C. State gets much-needed win over Miami in OT

NC State 84, Miami 81 ( OT )
Boston College 76, Maryland

RALEIGH, N.C. – Freshman Julius Mays makes game-winning shots all the time in NC State’s practices. In fact, earlier this week, he hit a winner for his team in a five-minute scrimmage.

Tuesday night, however, Mays did it for real, draining a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.6 seconds remaining in overtime to hand the Wolfpack an 84-81 victory over Miami in the RBC Center.

“I take those shots all the time in practice, and I make them,” said Mays, who had only three attempts from the field all night, but drained a pair of 3-pointers. “In fact, I just hit a game-winner in practice the other day.

“I know I can shoot the ball, my teammates know I can shoot the ball, so my confidence is always high. The play kind of broke down, but I still had the confidence to make the play.”

It was a wild finish in regulation and in overtime in a game that the Wolfpack led by as many as 19 points early in the second half. The Hurricanes came back with a furious rally, thanks to the scoring of senior guard Jack McClinton, who had a game-high 27 points.

During one stretch of the second half, McClinton led his team on a 28-9 scoring running run, wiping out the entire lead the Wolfpack built in a near perfect first half that included better than 50 percent shooting from the field and only two turnovers.

The teams traded five leads and had five ties over the final seven minutes of regulation and the five minutes overtime, but the Wolfpack (11-7 overall, 2-4 ACC) prevailed for its second ACC win in extra periods in 10 days, following an 76-71 OT victory over Georgia Tech at the RBC Center on Jan. 17.

Just like in the game against the Yellow Jackets, junior Brandon Costner committed his fifth foul early in the overtime and had to be replaced in the lineup. He left the game with 21 points. This time, however, seniors Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells were there to pick up the slack.

McCauley, who had 12 points and seven rebounds on the night, scored two of his team’s first three buckets in overtime, while Fells drained a 3-pointer with 1:29 to play that gave the Wolfpack a 79-75 lead.

But the Hurricanes, who struggled all night from the free throw line, caught a break after Dwayne Collins missed a pair of free throws. NC State junior Farnold Degand tried to save the long rebound from going out of bounds, but threw the ball back to Miami’s Brian Asbury, who scored a layup and was fouled on the play.

His free throw cut the lead to one point and Fells missed a jumper on the Pack’s next possession. However, as Miami tried to set up a late shot, Fells tipped a Jack McClinton pass up in the air and intercepted it.

“I think he was very surprised I made that play,” Fells said. “He was doing that a lot, trying to throw it over me in the first half. The second half, I was more aggressive and was able to get the tip.”

Fells, who scored a team-high 24 points on the night, was immediately fouled. He hit both free throws to give his team an 81-78 lead.

McClinton tried to break free on a screen and was fouled going up for a 3-pointer by Degand with 24.0 seconds remaining, his fifth foul of the game. McClinton stepped up to the free throw line to hit all three free throws and tie the game one more time.

Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe called a timeout to set up his team’s final possession with 19.9 seconds to play, and Mays held the ball for more than 10 seconds waiting to start the offense. He was looking for a screen by Dennis Horner, but Horner and McCauley got caught up in the lane, leaving Mays with a mismatch against Brian Asbury.

So he took the game-winning shot himself, for his second 3-pointer of the game.

The first half belonged exclusively to the Wolfpack, which shot a sizzling 51.9 percent from the floor and an even better 53.8 percent (7 for 13) from 3-point range. Fells was the offensive leader with 14 first-half points, including four 3-pointers.

After Miami scored on the game’s first possession, the Wolfpack scored nine straight points and never trailed again in the first half, owning a 39-25 at intermission.

The Wolfpack continues its three-game homestand Saturday afternoon when it hosts North Carolina in a 3:30 p.m. nationally televised contest at the RBC Center.

*****from Tim Peeler at gopack.com*****