Duke got N.C. State’s best shot on Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t good enough to knock the Blue Devils out of the ACC tournament.
Freshmen Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard handled the scoring and senior Marshall Plumlee did the rest to lead the fifth-seeded Blue Devils to a 92-89 win over the 12th-seeded Wolfpack.
In a game that featured 18 ties and 21 lead changes, it was Plumlee’s three-point play with 1:14 left that provided the game-winning points.
“What an afternoon for (the) ACC, for basketball,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Both teams were so difficult to stop.”
Cat Barber scored a game-high 29 points and had seven assists but N.C. State (16-17) couldn’t quite pull off the upset.
Not with Plumlee, even after he broke his nose, going for 17 points and 10 rebounds and Kennard and Ingram scoring 22 each.
N.C. State had three chances in the final minute to force overtime but couldn’t convert. It wasn’t for a lack of effort.
“I’ve had teams that have won more games in a season but I’m not sure I’ve ever been as proud of a team,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “We’ve got a group of guys that never quite. They kept trying. We came up a play or two short but their effort was amazing.”
Duke (23-9) moves on to a quarterfinal matchup with fourth-seeded Notre Dame on Thursday. It was the third straight year Duke has eliminated N.C. State from the ACC tournament.
Little has gone right for the Wolfpack this season and it won its first tournament game despite playing poorly against Wake Forest.
But for 40 minutes on Wednesday, even with all of its injury problems, N.C. State looked the NCAA tournament team it had hoped to be when the season started.
Barber was slashing and creating while Abdul-Malik Abu (19 points, nine rebounds) was scoring inside and Caleb Martin (16 points) and Maverick Rowan (15 points) were hitting from outside.
But Duke went 12 of 27 from the 3-point line and made 52.4 percent (33 of 63) of its field goals.
“We shot the heck out of the ball,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s a good thing we did.”
The Blue Devils rained 3-pointer after 3-pointer — with five from Ingram and four from Allen — but they finally cooled. That’s when Plumlee, the senior, came up big.
With the game tied at 89, Plumlee grabbed a rebound and was fouled on the way up by Cody Martin. Plumlee’s shot fell and then he made the free throw.
Rowan missed the ensuing 3 and the Wolfpack had a late turnover before Kennard missed a free throw with 1.4 seconds left. Barber got off one last-second prayer but it never made it to the rim.
Both teams put on a scoring clinic in the first half. N.C. State shot 62.9 percent (22 of 35) from the floor and went 6 of 10 from the 3-point line.
Freed from Duke’s usual trick defenses, Barber exploited the straight man defense for 15 first-half points. After a poor shooting effort in Tuesday’s win over Wake Forest, Barber came out hot going 6 of 10 in the first half.
Ingram upped Barber’s scoring efforts with a 4 of 5 start from the 3-point line and 19 points in the first half.
Ingram nailed his first four 3-point shots and it didn’t look like any of them even hit the rim before passing through the net.
Ingram only had three points in the second half but Grayson Allen scored 14 of his 19 points after the break and Plumlee was a steadying force.
And for the third straight year, that was enough to move Duke on and send N.C. State home.Duke got N.C. State’s best shot on Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t good enough to knock the Blue Devils out of the ACC tournament.