When the game was hanging in the balance and just seconds were left, North Carolina State succeeded where Maryland failed. After Maryland's Rudy Archer missed a 22-foot jump shot with eight seconds left, the Wolfpack's Vinny Del Negro hit a 15-foot jumper with one tick left to give his team an 83-81 victory last night in front of a stunned crowd of 14,500 at Cole Field House.

"I'd rather shoot it than have to pat somebody on the back," Del Negro said with the calmness of someone who has done this before, which he has.

The victory ended a two game losing streak for N.C. State (11-4, 3-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) and created one for Maryland (10-6, 3-3).

The Terrapins fought back from a 14-point deficit to tie the score at 81 with 1:22 left on a basket by Derrick Lewis, who played an inspired game in leading his team with 22 points. Unfortunately for Lewis and Maryland, he would not get another shot.

After a timeout with 1:19 left, N.C. State had possession. But when freshman guard Chris Corchiani attempted to pass to Charles Shackleford in traffic, the ball ended up in the hands of Archer with about 52 seconds remaining.

Archer pushed the ball into the front court, then Maryland called time with 44 seconds to go and 37 seconds on the shot clock. Maryland Coach Bob Wade diagrammed a play for Lewis, who had scored 10 of Maryland's last 12 points. The play was designed to have Lewis come off a pick and get the ball near the low post.

But, as Lewis said, "I think everyone in Cole Field House knew I was going to get the ball."

And N.C. State, which had played man-to-man for most of the night, went to a box-and-one, with Brian Howard on Lewis.

"We were going to give up something," said N.C. State Coach Jim Valvano, "but we didn't want to give Lewis the last shot."

After inbounding, Maryland ran about 20 seconds off the clock. With about 18 on the game clock (11 on the shot clock), the Terrapins finally started to move toward the basket.

Lewis came off the pick, but Howard hung close and the Wolfpack sagged. That left Archer with the ball high on the left wing and a dwindling 45-second clock, though he said he didn't know how much remained. He let fly from about 22-feet and it bounced away.

"Rudy's man sloughed off and he took the shot, which was a good shot," said Wade. In something of a contradiction, he added, "We did everything we wanted to do on the last shot."

The Wolfpack rebounded and eschewed the timeout. Unlike Maryland, N.C. State pushed the ball up the floor, with Corchiani in command.

"That's our style," Del Negro said.

"Once you get under 10 seconds, you have the other team in a frenzy," Valvano said. "When Chris ran by, I said, 'There's Vinny!' He heard me and saw him."

"We tried to foul," said Wade, who had gotten his first technical of the year for arguing a call earlier, "and I thought Derrick got Corchiani, but they didn't call it."

Without hesitating a second, Del Negro launched a shot cleanly through the net. The Terrapins managed a timeout but then could not get a shot off before the buzzer.

"I like the ball in my hands," said Del Negro, one of N.C. State's better shooters. "Against Georgia Tech, I took the shot, missed and luckily Brian Howard tipped it in {for a one-point win}. Sometimes you're the hero. Sometimes you're the goat."

Archer made the two other three-point shots he attempted and he thought his third was a good one.

"They jumped on Derrick and that surprised us," said Archer of the N.C. State box-and-one. "We tried to go inside but they shut it down. I thought it was a good shot and it just didn't go in."

When asked about his players being surprised by the zone, Wade said, "We went over the box-and-one in practice."

The Terrapins were more successful in getting their big men involved in the game, though the shots didn't always fall. Lewis, in particular, was very good down low.

The trouble for Maryland was that early on it could not contain Shackleford, who had 20 points in the first half to help his team to a 47-45 lead at intermission. Maryland's use of a 2-3 zone stymied Shackleford some in the second half, but he still had 10 points and led all scorers. It was two Shackleford dunks that gave N.C. State a 69-55 lead with 12:07 to play.

The Terrapins could have folded, but they fought back.

Williams dunked in a missed shot by Tony Massenburg to cut the lead to 81-79 and then made a beautiful pass to Lewis for the tying basket. But there would be no more points for Maryland.

"We're further into the season," Lewis said, "we should be doing the things necessary to win the close games."