Quick hits and notes from NC State's season-ending 75-67 loss to Maryland in front of announced crowd of 23,381 fans at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Thursday night in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Play of the game
The play sequence that best summed up the night for NC State happened early in the second half. NC State trailed 47-39 after a pair of free throws from Maryland senior guard Adrian Bowie with 16:27 remaining. NC State raced down the court, but Wolfpack freshman forward C.J. Leslie missed a lay-up. Maryland senior forward Dino Gregory grabbed the defensive rebound, gave it freshman guard Pe'Shon Howard who passed ahead to sophomore center Jordan Williams for a transition dunk to give the Terps a 49-39 lead with 16:15 on the clock. NC State head coach Sidney Lowe then immediately called a timeout.
Highlight of the game
NC State junior wing C.J. Williams stole the ball from Howard with 14:40 to go in the first half. Williams passed it to senior guard Javier Gonzalez, who had missed a fast break lay-up just seconds before. This time Gonzalez went reverse on his attempt with his left hand and made the shot while getting fouled by Gregory. Gonzalez made the free throw for the three point play with 14:37 on the clock, cutting Maryland's lead to 15-10.
Player of the game
This was not a contest with a standout performance. The best player on the court was probably Maryland's Williams, who went for another double-double by scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the win. Williams made 7 of 15 shots, and the double-double was the 24th of his season, easily a school record.
Swan song for Lowe?
There was no denying the storyline that dominated the night. Lowe's future has been the subject of much media and fan speculation. When Lowe walked onto the court he was swarmed by photographers and cameramen hoping to get a shot of Lowe in the red blazer. His every movement was monitored all the way to the postgame press conference, where photographers continued to snap photos.
Lowe was asked if he hoped to remain the head coach at NC State, and he replied affirmatively.
"I'm a basketball coach so you're always hoping to coach," Lowe said. "We're going to sit down and talk. Debbie said that since day one. We're going to sit down and talk and see where it goes from there."
Lowe also admitted that this situation is especially hard because of his affinity for his alma mater.
"It's harder because this is my school," Lowe said. "I love this school. I put a lot of sweat for four years to give it my best. It was my hope to come back here and do something special again. It means a lot more to me than it might mean to another coach or something."
Couldn't make shots
NC State in many ways played better than Maryland Thursday night, but the Pack just could not make shots. The Pack was just 27-of-80 shooting for 33.8 percent. That was easily the most shot attempts in one game this year for NC State. The previous high was 68 at the RBC Center against Duke Jan. 19.
The 33.8 percent represented NC State's third worst shooting performance of the year, and the worst against a conference opponent. The Pack shot 31.6 percent and 31.8 percent in losses at Wisconsin and to Arizona at home respectively. Their worst ACC shooting performance before Thursday night had been 36.4 percent at North Carolina Jan. 29.
Only one Wolfpack player made half his shots. Sophomore forward Richard Howell went 4 of 8 from the field. Everyone else shot less than 50 percent. The Wolfpack was just 2-of-17 shooting from three-point territory, or 11.8 percent. NC State shot just 11 of 18 from the free throw line for 61.1 percent.
Spotted at the game
Thursday night's crowd dwarfed the afternoon session. Among those sitting right behind the NC State band was NC State Class of 2012 recruit Tyler Lewis, a point guard from Statesville, N.C., playing at Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville, N.C.
What the loss means
NC State ends the year at 15-16 overall, their first losing season since the Pack had an identical record in Lowe's second season as the Wolfpack's head coach. Lowe also fell to 0-9 all-time against Maryland, the lone team in the ACC he has yet to beat.
Maryland improves to 19-13 overall and will face second-seeded Duke in the second round of the ACC Tournament Friday evening. Maryland now has 14 consecutive years with at least 19 wins.
Maryland is now 19-5 in the last 24 games against NC State and owns the overall series lead 76-72. NC State is 11-8 all-time in games played between the two teams in the ACC Tournament.
The Pack falls to 23-21 in ACC Tournament games played in Greensboro. Lowe is 2-2 in conference tourney games play at the Greensboro Coliseum. NC State is 6-6 all-time in first-round tournament games since the expansion of the league to nine teams in 1992. Lowe is 2-3.
This was the third time that NC State has been the 10 seed in the ACC Tournament. NC State went to the finals in 2007, but they lost to Maryland in 2009. NC State is 9-3 all-time against seven seeds, most of them coming when the Pack was a two seed.
Other stats of note
- NC State outrebounded Maryland 47-46, including 19-7 on the offensive glass. The Pack had a 10-7 advantage in second-chance points.
- The Pack had just eight turnovers while forcing 17 for Maryland. State had a 20-7 points off turnovers advantage.
- NC State dominated in the paint to the tune of 48-30.
- Maryland outscored NC State 13-10 in fast break points.
- The Pack's bench outscored Maryland's reserves 38-29.