NC State's Beverly: 'We started off slow. It happens. But we stayed positive.'
N.C. State allowed Pittsburgh to get closer to an ACC win on Wednesday night than the last-place Panthers have been all season.
The Wolfpack, though, toughened up and dominated the game’s last five minutes to rally for a memorable win of its own.
N.C. State scored 13 consecutive points to erase a nine-point deficit and posted a 72-68 ACC basketball win at the Petersen Events Center.
Pittsburgh (8-13, 0-8 ACC) had never led after halftime in its first seven ACC games this season. The Panthers led by as many as 11 points in the second half against the Wolfpack (14-7, 4-4) before N.C. State held Pitt to just one basket over the game’s final five minutes, 50 seconds.
Omer Yurtseven led N.C. State with 16 points, while Allerik Freeman scored 13 and Torin Dorn 12. N.C. State won despite shooting just 33.8 percent overall, including making 9 of 35 3-pointers (25.7 percent).
After trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half, N.C. State faced a 62-51 deficit with 9:01 left.
But Dorn spurred a comeback with three consecutive baskets. The first came on a dunk when he got behind Pitt’s zone defense to catch a lob pass from Braxton Beverly. The next came on a fast break that was started by a Yurtseven blocked shot.
The last came on a fast break when Pittsburgh was called for goaltending. Those two points left Pitt with a 62-57 lead with 7:46 to play.
Two baskets in the lane by Pitt’s Kene Chukwuka pushed the Panthers’ lead back to 66-57, but N.C. State had another scoring spurt ready.
Dorn hit two free throws and, with Pitt going scoreless on its next three possessions, Beverly and Allerik Freeman hit 3-pointers leaving State down 66-65 with 3:47 to play.
Beverly’s 3-pointer at 2:47 extended N.C. State’s run to 11 points in a row and gave the Wolfpack its first lead of the second half at 68-66.
A Dorn fade-away jumper with 18 seconds left gave N.C. State a 70-66 lead and completed the Wolfpack’s key 13-0 run.
After Marcus Carr’s basket with 10.4 seconds left ended Pitt’s scoreless streak of 5:44, Freeman hit two free throws with 8.5 seconds left.
Pitt, which entered the game averaging an ACC-worst 64.2 points per game and shooting just 42.8 percent, singed the nets in the first half. The Panthers shot 53.8 percent, making 8 of 15 3-pointers (53.3 percent), to build a 15-point lead – and a 43-33 halftime lead.
With Yurtseven scoring seven points over the game’s first four minutes, N.C. State jumped to a 10-3 lead and led 17-6 five minutes into the game.
But Pitt reeled off 13 consecutive points as N.C. State made just 1 of 13 shots during a five-minute stretch.
Yurtseven picked up his second foul with 12:23 to play in the first half and went to the bench.
At the 11:26 mark, Malik Abu picked up his second foul and joined Yurtseven on the bench. That left the Wolfpack without its two starting interior players for most of the remainder of the first half.
Pitt began pounding the ball inside, and its lead grew as the Wolfpack struggled to score.
When Khameron Davis hit a 3-pointer with 2:18 left until halftime, Pitt led 43-28.
The Panthers turned the ball over on their last three possessions of the half, and N.C. State scored the final five points to trail 43-33 at intermission.