Thursday , Mar , 08 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Wolfpack down Duke in opening round of ACC tourney

Tampa, FL (Sports Network) – Brandon Costner scored seven of his 30 points in
overtime as North Carolina State upended No. 21 Duke, 85-80, in the opening
round of the ACC Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Engin Atsur added 21 points for the 10th-seeded Wolfpack (16-14), who bounced
back from a 20-point drubbing at the hands of Maryland in their regular season
finale and will now move on to face Virginia in the quarterfinals. Ben
McCauley chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“It was just a lot of pick and rolls,” Costner said of his big day. “It just
happened that the man they were switching off to was smaller than me, and it
just happened that I got the most shots today and got to take advantage of the

Greg Paulus netted 18 points for the seventh-seeded Blue Devils (22-10), who
have dropped three straight games. Josh McRoberts and DeMarcus Nelson both
finished with 17 points, while Martynas Pocius and Jon Scheyer each had 14
points apiece.

“We’re not playing as one,” said Paulus. “We’ve got to communicate more and
show more effort. It’s one of the things we’ve been trying to focus on. We
didn’t do a good job again today either.”

Costner set the tone in the extra frame with a three-point play. The teams
then traded points as the game headed toward the finish line. McCauley’s
jumper, with 2:06 left, put the Wolfpack on top, 79-76, with 2:06 left.

Paulus had a good look at a three to even things but his jumper rimmed out and
NC State converted three free throws on their next two possessions to make it
82-76 with just 43 seconds left.

Duke never recovered from there and bowed out of the tournament it has won a
record 16 times.

The Blue Devils took a five-point lead into the final frame but NC State
refused to go away. Costner’s lay-in, with just under nine minutes to go,
deadlocked things at 51.

Duke responded when Paulus deposited five consecutive points over the
next minute to make it 56-51.

The Blue Devils couldn’t shake the Wolfpack, however. NC State scored 15 of
the game’s next 21 points to see-saw back in front. Consecutive layups by
Ansur and Gavin Grant capped the run and gave NC State a 66-62 with just 3:04

Things remained tight as the game headed toward a conclusion. Pocius’
conventional three-point play put Duke back on top, 68-67, with 1:50 on the

Twenty seconds later Atsur calmly buried a long three from the left wing, but
Nelson drove right through the NC State defense and deposited a layup on
the ensuing possession to deadlock things at 70 with 41 ticks left.

The Wolfpack got three good looks for the win but couldn’t convert. Costner
missed a jumper from the free throw line and Courtney Fells got the offensive
rebound and found Ansur, who missed a wide open three.

Grant got another offensive rebound and, after a timeout, Fells’ jumper from
the right corner hit off the front of the iron as the buzzer sounded.

Duke closed the opening half with a 13-6 run to take a 34-29 advantage at
intermission. Scheyer was a perfect 3-of-3 from long range and paced the Blue
Devils at 11, while Costner had a game-high 16 for North Carolina State at

Game Notes

Duke played without freshman Gerald Henderson, who served a mandatory one-game
suspension for a flagrant foul on North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough in the
closing seconds of a loss to North Carolina last Sunday. “He’s a very
important piece to their team,” said NC State coach Sidney Lowe. “He gives
them the athleticism, he gives them rebounds, he gives them another guy that
can score the ball and defend. Any time you miss a player like that it’s going
to affect your ball club.”…Duke still leads the all-time series,
132-96….NC State has won 10 ACC titles, the third-highest total of all
current league members, but it has been 20 years since the program last
captured the crown…Duke fell to 80-38 in ACC tourney history…The Blue
Devils crushed NC State by a 79-56 final in the only regular season
meeting, and they own a 132-95 series advantage over the Wolfpack.