Nevada-Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian knows what happened. But he can't quite figure out why Thurl Bailey was able to make the rebound basket with four seconds remaining that gave 16th-ranked North Carolina State a 71-70 come-from-behind upset of his sixth-ranked Runnin' Rebels today in the second round of the NCAA West Regional.
"I don't know how he got open to tip it in. I thought we defended that well," Tarkanian said. "I'll have to see the replay."
Bailey, a 6-foot-11 senior, brought the Wolfpack back from a 12-point deficit in the final 11:40 as he scored 17 of his team-high 25 points in the final 11 minutes.
The winning points came after Dereck Whittenburg of North Carolina State missed a 20-foot jumper with nine seconds left. Amid the jostling, Bailey rebounded and scored.
"When Dereck took the shot, a lot of UNLV players sagged off on him. That left me in good position to rebound," Bailey explained.
"When it came off the rim I tried to tip it in the first time. It rolled off and there were a couple of hands on it, so I grabbed it and, as I was falling back, I just threw it off the board and it dropped."
In the second game, 11th-ranked Boston College held Princeton without a field goal for the first 14:37 of the second half and went on to win, 51-42. The Eagles (25-6) will play top-seeded Virginia Thursday in Ogden, Utah.
Although N.C. State had gone ahead early, 12-4, Nevada-Las Vegas (28-3) had taken a 20-19 lead on a layup by freshman Eldridge Hudson with 8:26 left in the first half. The Runnin' Rebels led the rest of the way until Bailey's basket.
At halftime, UNLV was up, 33-27. With forward Larry Anderson making shots from 15 and 20 feet, UNLV expanded the lead to 52-40 on Sidney Green's three-point play with 11:40 left.
At that point, N.C. State Coach Jim Valvano called a timeout. "All I asked the kids to do was just not quit and play smart," he said. "I didn't call the timeout to say, 'Now we've got 'em, we're down by 12.' "
The Rebels missed two straight layups to help the Wolfpack (22-10) get close. North Carolina State pulled within 56-54 on two free throws by Lorenzo Charles with 7:25 to play and it was close the rest of the game.
UNLV led, 70-67, when Eric Booker made one of two free throws with 48 seconds to play. Bailey scored on an eight-footer 12 seconds later and Hudson missed the first shot of a one and one with 32 seconds to go to give the Wolfpack the chance for the victory.
Green led all scorers with 27.
N.C. State has now won five close games. Last weekend, the Wolfpack beat Wake Forest, then upset both defending NCAA champion North Carolina and Virginia to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. On Friday, they rallied to beat Pepperdine, 69-67, in double overtime.
N.C. State will play Utah in the West Regional semifinals Thursday.
The winner of the second game, Boston College, was led by Jay Murphy, who scored 17 points.
Murphy, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, had 12 of his points in the opening half, which ended with BC ahead, 24-23. Murphy finished with a game-high 10 rebounds.
BC, which entered the game averaging 85.1 points per game, took advantage of Princeton's sputtering offense in the second half to break open a close game.
The Tigers (19-9) missed their first 12 shots from the floor in the second half and were just five for 22 in field goal attempts in the half.
BC, taking a cue from Princeton's deliberate offense, took just 11 shots from the field in the second half, making seven.