North Carolina State forward Lorenzo Charles made two free throws with four seconds left to give the Wolfpack a 57-55 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over Virginia today.
N.C. State rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half and outscored the Cavaliers, 20-6, during the last 12 minutes of the game.
The victory improved the Wolfpack's record to 18-7 overall and 8-4 in the ACC, tying them with North Carolina for first place in the conference. Virginia, which had a four-game win streak, dropped to 15-12, 3-9.
The Cavaliers had the ball and a chance to win with 1:06 left and the score tied at 55. N.C. State guard Terry Gannon connected on a 22-foot jumper from the left wing to give the Wolfpack a 55-53 advantage with 1:57 remaining, but after Cavaliers guard Tom Calloway tied the score with two free throws, Gannon missed from the same spot. Calloway grabbed the rebound, and Virginia called time out.
The Cavaliers held the ball for 40 seconds before Calloway missed a shot from deep in the corner and Charles rebounded. After an N.C. State timeout, Charles drove the base line and was fouled by Tom Sheehey, setting up the game winner.
"We called for (Spud) Webb to get the ball with about 10 seconds to go," said N.C. State Coach Jim Valvano, "and then penetrate the lane to take the shot or dish off if he got pressure. That's exactly what happened and we were able to get Charles to the line."
Charles' foul shots highlighted a surge in the second half in which the Wolfpack tightened on defense and Virginia shot 35 percent from the floor while committing nine turnovers. Cavaliers Coach Terry Holland suggested that the heat in the conference race and in steamy University Hall might have contributed to Virginia's collapse.
"We played extremely well during the first 23 minutes of the game," Holland said. "Then we either played not to lose or the heat and humidity was a factor and we were tired. We had an awful lot of turnovers when we could have won the game."
Virginia fared much better in the first half. Jimmy Miller came off the bench at the 14-minute mark to give Virginia some offensive lift, drawing two fouls from Charles and scoring five of his game-high 14 points to give the Cavaliers a 12-8 lead.
Virginia took control midway through the half with a 10-2 spurt that put the Cavaliers ahead, 29-20. Forward Mel Kennedy contributed a jumper and a driving layup to the run.
The Cavaliers moved to a 12-point lead late in the half, with Miller and guard Darrick Simms scoring two baskets each to make it 37-25 at intermission.
"Virginia played an exceptional game in the first half," Valvano said. "They ran their offense, they rebounded, and they played good defense. They dominated.
"I knew that being down 14 points (in the second half), we faced a difficult task to come back. We wanted to pack it in the middle and make them score from the outside, and catch them gradually over the remaining time in the game."
N.C. State was successful in packing the middle during the second half, holding Virginia center Olden Polynice scoreless and Miller to but one basket over the last 20 minutes. On offense, Charles led the Wolfpack with eight points in the last eight minutes.
Charles made his first field goal with 7:23 remaining in the game, then made another basket and four foul shots.
"Lorenzo Charles did not play exceptionally well," Valvano said. "They did an excellent defensive job on him. Given the kind of year he's been having, it's fitting that he hit those two free throws at the end."