RALEIGH — North Carolinas loss on Sunday and Dukes close call on Tuesday were warnings for N.C. State.
An 82-72 overtime loss to N.C. Central on Wednesday was a dose of reality for the Wolfpack.
Anything is possible, thats just how it is in college basketball, N.C. State junior Ralston Turner said. On any night, anybody can get beat.
With 29 points from senior guard Jeremy Ingram, N.C. Central knocked off N.C. State for its first win over an ACC team.
The Eagles (3-1) had lost their first 13 games against the ACC since making the transition to Division I before the 2007-08 season. They had lost the previous four games to N.C. State by an average of 23 points.
But Wednesdays game, between a veteran NCCU team and an N.C. State program in transition was quite different. The Eagles controlled the game and led for most of it.
It was a huge win for North Carolina Central University, fifth-year coach LeVelle Moton said. Every low major program, every HBCU, hopefully they can look at this and feel inspired.
With N.C. State (2-2) drowning in foul trouble and misery from the 3-point line (3 of 20), it looked like the Eagles would walk to a win in regulation.
A pair of free throws by senior guard Emanuel Chapman (18 points) gave NCCU (3-1) a 59-53 lead with 1 minute and 33 seconds left in the second half.
Then N.C. State got five points from freshman guard Cat Barber, who finished with a team-high 22 points, followed by a layup by sophomore guard Tyler Lewis with 13.2 seconds left to cut NCCUs lead to 62-60.
Ingram, a 6-3 shooting guard from Charlotte, scored 23 of his points after the first half. He made one free throw and missed the second with 11.3 seconds left to leave the door open.
With starters T.J. Warren (13 points) and Desmond Lee (12) on the bench with five fouls, Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried turned to freshman walk-on Patrick Wallace.
Wallace, a 6-1 guard from Charlotte, is one of the best shooters on the team but his work is mostly confined to practice.
With Barber squeezed out of the lane by NCCUs zone, he picked up the ball a step outside the paint and found Wallace in the right corner. Wallace, who spent the first 39 minutes of the game on the bench, coolly caught the ball and drained the 3.
Ive seen him do that time and time again in practice, Lee said. I was like, Weve got another life.
But Ingram was not to be denied in overtime. He channeled his anger from the missed free throw at the end of regulation into nine straight points.
Before instant hero Wallace could crank up another 3 (he missed), the Wolfpack was already down 70-63 in overtime.
I felt like that could have been the thing that lost the game, Ingram said of the missed free throw. I wanted to come out and really be aggressive and try to get us over the hump.
Gottfried wasnt surprised by the result. The Eagles have seven players back from a team that won 22 games last season and went 15-1 in the MEAC.
Theyre a veteran team and they played like a veteran team, Gottfried said. Theyre a good team. Theyre going to win a lot of games.
I think were going to get good, were not there obviously right now.
For Moton, it was the kind of win that will get his fledgling program, which competed in Division II and the CIAA conference until 2007, a foot in the crowded market that is Triangle basketball.
Ever since we made this transition, weve been fighting for respect, Moton said. Its really tough on Tobacco Road, in our backyard to not be mentioned with the big boys with Duke and Carolina and N.C. State.
After Wednesdays historic win, the Eagles have earned their bragging rights.