In another of those seemingly endless games of wild, wacky Atlantic Coast Conference basketball, Virginia captured an 81-73 overtime contest that North Carolina State should have wrapped up with 30 seconds left in regulation yesterday.
That was when State sophomore Ken Pinder missed two free throws with his team ahead, 64-62. From there, the Cavaliers ran off 11 straight points, including freshman Jeff Lamp's 12-foot baseline jumper with eight seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
It was obvious that Pinder's errant free throws whiplashed the Wolfpack psychologically. At the start of the extra period, Steve Castellan connected on an alley-oop dunk and Mike Owens on a layup for Virginia, which had been stymied until when by State's nifty zone defenses. By the time State's recovered. Virginia was ahead, 73-64.
"It bothers you, I'm sure," said Wolfpack Coach Norman Sloan."But it's nobody's fault. This is a tough place to shoot free throws (State was 13 for 23. Virginia 29 of 42). There's a funny thing about it. I can't explain it. It just looks unreal."
Lamp, whose tying basket at the end of regulation was his only field goal of the second half, said he could see the change in the attitude of the State players, who led by six points with less than four minutes to play in regulation.
"They were coming out with a little time left (in regulation), and were shaking hands and smiling." Lamp said. "Coming out for the overtime, I think they thought they were going to lose."
Indeed, State, a near unanimous preseason choice for the ACC celler, dropped to 3-3 at the midpoint of league play: Virginia is 4-2, 142 overall.
For the weakiness, this ended a week in which Virginia won two ACC games - the first by a point after a Duke player missed a one-and-one bonus with eight seconds left, and yesterday's because of Pinder's missed free throws.
The game included two of the rarest of rarities - team baskets for the Cavaliers because Wolfpack players tipped in two field goals in all the jostling of this extremely physical game. One of them, following a missed Mare lavaroni free throw, brought Virginia within 62-60 near the end of regulation.
"It's just pushing around a lot inside," said Mike Owens of Virginia, a graduate of Einstein High School in Kensington, Md., explaining how two balls could be tipped a lot of commotion. There's just a lot of contact things the refs don't see. It's just basketball.There's nothing sneaky about it."
The three officials saw a lot of State fouls. The Wolfpack was called for 36 infractions and all starters fouled out. First to go was sophomore Hawkeye Whitney, the team's usual high scorer. He played only 14 minutes and scored five points.
He had been on the bench almost seven minutes when Pinder went to the foul time for his two critical free throws Virginia coach Terry Holland called time-out.
"We didn't even talk about the free throws with him," Sloan said.
"I thought about making them, making them," said Pinder.
He said the fans waving their hands behind the basket did not bother him. He is a normal 63 percent foul shooter. Yesterday, he make two of seven.
Castellan grabbed the rebound following the second miss at the end of regulation and the Caus called time.
"The play wasn't set for me" said Lamp. "He told us if we had enough time to get a good short."
But the Cavs' offense, as it had much of the day could not solve State's tightly packed zone. Finally, as the clock ticked under 10 seconds, Lamp was double teamed on the baseline. He did his usual double-pump with two players nearly hanging on him and launched the tying shot.
"It wasn't a good shot really. I'm sure the coach didn't think so, either," Lamp said. "I like to have the ball in pressure-type situations. That's why I like this game."