Kelly Tripucka sank two free throws for a three-point lead with six seconds left and topranked Notre Dame outlasted North Carolina State tonight, 53-52.
Hawkeye Whitney, who missed a shot just prior to Tripucka being fouled, replied with a basket for State but the clock expired with Notre Dame boosting its season record to 17-2 and handing the Wolfpack its first loss outside the Atlantic Coast Conference at home in 11 years.
N.C. State last dropped a nonconference decision to Georgia in 1968.
Notre Dame, paced by Tripucka's 16 points, led by as many as nine points in the second half. Kenny Matthews kept N.C. State within striking distance with four buckets to bring the Wolfpack within one, 47-46, with 8:26 to play.
Notre Dame took a three-point lead on an inside pass to Rich Branning, for the Irish's only field goal of the final 12 minutes, but the Wolfpack pulled within one, 49-48, on a basket by Art Jones.
The Irish employed a patient offense and slowed the game's pace until Orlando Woolridge made two free throws for a 51-48 lead with 3:03 remaining.
With 2:48 to play, Clyde Austin tailied on an outside jump shot to pull N.C. State within one, 51-50.
With 31 seconds to play, Notre Dame's Bill Hanzlik was called for traveling.
"We didn't lose our composure," said Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps. "But I was really surprisen at Hanzlik's move to the basket.
Following timeouts by each team, State set up for a final shot. Whitney threw up an off-balance jumper near the foul line that missed everything with six seconds left and Tripucka was fouled. "We figured Hawkeye would take the last shot," said Phelps. "Even though he had a lousy first half (one for seven), he's just as likely to kill you in the second."
"We've played three No. 1 teams real close and lost them all," said State Coach Norman Sloan." "We just can't seem to get over the hump."
The Wolfpack played an effective man-to-man defense but cold shooting hurt State's scoring chances.