NC State beats Clemson at the buzzer, 69-67, on Braxton Beverly’s game saving shot

NC State’s Braxton Beverly beats the buzzer to give the Wolfpack a victory over Clemson

Watch a time-lapse as NC State's Braxton Beverly makes a three-pointer as time expires to give the Wolfpack the victory over the Clemson Tigers at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, January 26, 2019.
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Watch a time-lapse as NC State's Braxton Beverly makes a three-pointer as time expires to give the Wolfpack the victory over the Clemson Tigers at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, January 26, 2019.

N.C. State guard Braxton Beverly hit a running three pointer at the buzzer Saturday as N.C. State battled back from a six-point deficit in the final 35 seconds to defeat Clemson, 69-67.

With seconds remaining, Marcquise Reed missed two free throws and C.J. Bryce grabbed the rebound for the Wolfpack. Bryce pushed it ahead to Beverly, who hit the biggest shot of his career as the horn sounded. Reed missed four free throws in a row to leave the door open for the Wolfpack.

The shot by Beverly gave him 12 points for the game.

“I thought Clemson played a tremendous game,” Kevin Keatts said. “We were in a dogfight as we expected. Believe it or not I never felt like we were out of the game. I thought our guys did a great job executing down the stretch.”

Clyde Trapp of Clemson hit one free throw with 35 seconds left, but the Tigers went 2-for-7 from the foul line the rest of the way. Beverly and the Wolfpack (16-4, 4-3) went a perfect 3-for-3 from the line and got a jumper from Markell Johnson to pull to within one. After Reed missed his fourth free throw in the final 10 seconds, Beverly became a hero with the long three. N.C. State didn’t have a timeout, so Keatts didn’t have time to draw up a play.

NC State coach Kevin Keatts talks about fans leaving early and Braxton Beverly's last-second game winning shot after the Wolfpack's victory over Clemson at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, January 26, 2019.

“It’s just something that worked out between us players,” Beverly said. “As soon as it left my hand I knew I made it. As long as we beat the buzzer I knew it was good.”

Bryce said he was just trying to make the best play when he raced up the court. He dribbled behind his back in front of Keatts, and made a pivot move. When he turned around he saw Beverly streaking down the floor alone.

“You can’t turn down a pure shooter,” Bryce said. “I passed it to him and he made a money shot.”

Bryce never doubted it was going in.

“Everybody knew that,” Bryce said. “In the stands, on the sidelines, everyone knew it was money.”

Beverly scored 19 points, including five 3s, in a loss to Louisville on Thursday. He had two points in the first half on Saturday, and was cold from behind the line until Bryce found him with everything on the line.

“It’s incredible to get that kind of support from your teammates,” Beverly said in the locker room. “To hit a big shot and get a big win like we did. We knew we had to battle back and get one here at home.”

Johnson led the team with 16 points and C.J. Bryce added 15. Reed scored 19 points to lead all scorers. Elijah Thomas added 18 for the Tigers. Reed and Thomas combined for 30 of Clemson’s 43 points in the second half.

After trailing most of the second half, Clemson battled back to tie the game at 49 on a layup from Thomas. That capped off an 8-0 run by the Tigers as N.C. State went on a 3:11 scoring drought.

After a timeout, the Beverly missed a 3 from the corner, and Thomas gave Clemson its first lead of the second half, 51-49, after a layup with 6:24 remaining in the game. Beverly’s miss was the fifth in a row for the Wolfpack.

After another layup by the Tigers, C.J. Bryce missed a jumper from the top of the key, giving the ball back to Clemson, which turned it back over to the Wolfpack. Beverly ended the N.C. State scoring drought to make it a two-point game, 53-51, with less than five minutes remaining.

Thomas answered on the other end, scoring a basket while drawing a foul on D.J. Funderburk. His free throw put Clemson up four.

Markell Johnson hit a 3 to make it a one-point game, but State gave up another three-point play, this time to Reed. Torin Dorn knocked down a jumper to make it a one point game, 61-60, but Clemson, which dominated the offensive glass (10-7), got a second chance shot to make it 63-60. Another jumper by Reed with 51 seconds remaining almost proved to be the game winner, but State showed its mental toughness down the stretch.

“Until the clock strikes triple zero it’s always a chance to win,” Dorn said. “That’s what we think, that’s our mentality.”

State led 30-24 at the break, after trailing by as many as five in a back and forth opening 20 minutes that looked like both teams were trying to find a groove.

The Tigers went cold right before the break, going 3:33 without a basket and four turnovers in the same span. At the first media timeout out the teams were a combined 4-15 from the floor.

The Wolfpack improve to 9-3 at PNC Arena in ACC play under Keatts.

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.