N.C. State upsets Hoyas
By Richard Zussman, QMI Agency
|Left, C.J. Williams celebrates his team's 66-63 win and advancement to the Sweet 16.
Last Sunday North Carolina State was forced to sweat out whether it would make it into the NCAA tournament. A week later, Wolfpack fans were forced to sweat out a choppy final minute of play with a trip to Round of 16 on the line. In the end, No. 11 N.C. State prevailed over three seed Georgetown 66-63. But it didn’t make it easy on itself.
Three times in the final 20 seconds the ’Pack stood on the free throw line with an opportunity to extend the lead. First it was Scott Wood, a 92% free throw shooter, who missed his second shot. Then it was up to Lorenzo Brown. Brown made three out of his final four foul shots.
But with the score 66-63 and less than five seconds on the clock, Brown missed a critical free throw that would have sealed the deal. Seconds later and only after Jason Clark missed a long three-point attempt for the Hoyas, could ’Pack nation breathe a sigh of relieve.
In a tournament ripe with second-round shockers, N.C. State was the first double digit seed to make it into Round 4. A team considered an also-ran in the tough ACC is no longer being over looked.
N.C. State spread out the scoring on Sunday, with three players scoring 14 points. Brown played the role of floor general. He dished out seven assists while adding 12 points. Georgetown had its eye on becoming the fourth Big East team in the final 16.
The rebound season for the Hoyas came up short. Hollis Thompson came off the bench to score 23 points and led all scorers. A real disappointment for the Hoyas was Henry Sims. The senior walked off the court early for the Hoyas, having fouled out with just four points. Sims played limited minutes because of foul trouble.
N.C. State’s turn-around season will continue next week in St. Louis. The ’Pack finished last season with a 5-11 conference record and improved that mark to 9-7 this year. They own NCAA championship titles from 1974 and 1983.
A pair of C.J.’s led the Wolfpack on offence. C.J. Williams scored 14 points and snagged a pair of rebounds. C.J. Leslie was a force to be reckoned with on the boards. Leslie also scored 14 points, while adding 8 rebounds.
The C.J.’s were also stars on defence. Leslie swatted away two Georgetown shots, while it was Williams who was counted on for key stops down the stretch. In the Hoyas second last possession, Williams forced Georgetown into a poor shot that was easily rebounded by NC State.
FULL STEAM AHEAD
The message was clear. The North Carolina Tar Heels aren’t afraid of anyone. The top-ranked team in the Midwest region powered its way to an 87-73 win over the Creighton Blue Jackets on Sunday. The Heels answered two questions in emphatic fashion. Yes they are over their loss to Florida State in the ACC championship game and yes John Henson is healthy enough to help out UNC.
The Heels look to be clicking at the right time of year now. Sophomore Kendall Marshall was nearly perfect from the floor with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 11 assists. But his status for the rest of the tournament is now in question. After the game it was revealed Marshall broke his wrist in the second half and may no longer be available for UNC. At times Marshall was impossible to defend as he scored from long range and getting the basket with quick penetration.
Henson showed his mean streak in the first half when he picked up a technical for getting in the face of a Creighton defender who tried to swipe the ball from his hands. He also showed off his scoring streak. Henson scored 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in his return from a wrist injury that held him out four games. Henson was hurt in the ACC tournament after falling hard after being fouled.
Creighton’s historic season came to a close against a North Carolina team it couldn’t keep up with. The Blue Jays came into the game shooting a tournament best 50.7% from the field throughout the season. On Sunday, they shot just 41.2%, not good enough to upset one of the top teams in the country. The road to New Orleans now goes through St. Louis, where the Heels will face the surprising South Florida Bulls.
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
Doug McDermott scored more, but his old teammate Harrison Barnes is the one with the bragging rights. Barnes, one of the top high school player’s in Iowa history, scored 17 points and five rebounds Sunday. McDermott, his former teammate at Ames High School, led the way for the Blue Jays with 20 points and nine rebounds. Just two years ago the pair were on the court celebrating a second straight state championship. Now, McDermott will head back to campus and root for his friend.