RALEIGH — T.J. Warren didn’t like what he saw, but he loved the result.
Georgia Tech’s Chris Bolden got a clean look from 30 feet at the overtime buzzer of Sunday’s game against N.C. State.
“It was pretty terrifying when it left his hands,” Warren said of the last shot. “It looked on line. Luckily, it didn’t go in.”
Bolden’s shot was on target, but it was also too strong. Warren exhaled and the Wolfpack had its second straight comeback ACC win. Warren, after missing one game with an ankle injury, scored 20 points, including the game-winner with 6.2 seconds left, to lift N.C. State to an 80-78 win at PNC Arena.
N.C. State (13-7, 3-4) erased an 11-point deficit duringthe second half with a smaller lineup and an active 2-3 zone. Guard Desmond Lee, who didn’t start for the first time all season, forced overtime with a putback of a Warren miss with 22.5 seconds left in regulation.
Warren, Lee (11 points), Ralston Turner (12) and Tyler Lewis (10 points, three assists) led a balanced Wolfpack scoring effort. The four guards with freshman forward BeeJay Anya led a second-half surge which, for the second straight game, led to an N.C. State comeback.
“We were down and things weren’t looking real good for us but our guys played with great courage,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “They played really hard and competed.”
For a team trying to put a pair of 30-point ACC losses in the rearview mirror, the extra effort was another encouraging sign for Gottfried’s third team.
It was Warren who delivered the game-winner in overtime. His runner with 6.2 seconds, after a screen from Lewis at the foul line, was a vintage, makes-it-look-easier-than-it-is shot for an 80-78 lead. He made the 10-footer despite fading to his right and the help defense from Georgia Tech forward Daniel Miller.
“Tyler set a great screen,” Warren said. “I tried to come off there aggressively and tried to make something happen.”
Warren, who played 42 minutes on a still tender left ankle, did just that. The Yellow Jackets (11-9, 2-5) still didn’t go away quietly, even after guard Trae Golden was called for an offensive foul with 2.2 seconds left in overtime.
Georgia Tech fouled Turner, who started for the second straight game, on the inbounds play after the Golden foul. Turner proceeded to miss both free throws.
With one last chance, Miller threw a long inbounds pass to forward Kam Holsey, between the 3-point line and halfcourt, and Holsey dropped it off for Bolden on the left wing.
Instead of another Wolfpack heartbreak, there was joy, but only after a rally and a key defensive adjustment by Gottfried.
Unheralded freshman Quinton Stephens scored 11 of his season-high 13 points during the first half to help Georgia Tech build a 40-35 advantage. The Yellow Jackets stretched their lead to 50-41 during the first three minutes of the second half before Gottfried switched from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone.
It took some adjusting, and Miller was able to exploit the Wolfpack’s smaller lineup on the offensive glass for the tune of 21 points and 14 rebounds, but N.C. State rallied when it went small.
Warren came in at 14 minutes, 15 seconds, after being benched by Gottfried for two defensive lapses, and Gottfried went with the four perimeter players and Anya in the middle.
Lewis hit back-to-back 3s, which cut into a Georgia Tech lead that peaked at 52-41 at 15:55. Lee finally pushed the Wolfpack in front, 62-61 at the 7:10 mark.
The teams went back-and-forth over the final minutes, with Miller seemingly putting the game out of reach with consecutive baskets for a 72-67 lead.
But Turner made a big 3 with 2:09 left and Lee’s follow squared the score at 72. Golden missed a 3-point attempt from the right wing for the win at the end of regulation and the teams went into overtime.
Warren scored the first and last basket of overtime to deliver the win for the Wolfpack.