GREENSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — A back-and-forth first-half didn’t stop after the halftime whistle in 5-seed N.C. State’s matchup with the 13-seeded Pitt Panthers.
After the Wolfpack took a 31-21 first-half lead, their biggest of the half, Pittsburgh turned it up and went on a 9-0 run, bringing it to a 35-32 deficit after 20 minutes.
At the onset of half number two, N.C. State could not seem to shake off the scrappy Panthers. After settling in and making great passes and finishing versus Pitt’s 2-3 zone, a 17-point Wolfpack lead would not be overcome.
The Wolfpack would go on to win the contest 73-58. Kevin Keatts’ team will meet the Duke Blue Devils for the rubber match on Thursday. Both teams took care of home court in their regular-season matchups.
The game was full of what you can expect in the ACC Tournament. Ten guys all at once, giving it their all.
On the line? A chance to move on, with both programs hoping to secure a bid in the NCAA tournament. A monster put-back dunk by Pitt freshman Justin Champagnie? No problem. Devon Daniels showing off for the Wolfpack at the rim as well? Why not!
Daniels led the Wolfpack with 23 points and 6 rebounds. But it was a team effort for the guys in white. Four N.C. State scorers were in double figures. DJ Funderburk dominated the boards on his way to a 13 point, 10 rebound double-double.
Guard Xavier Johnson paced the Panthers with 15 points. Trey McGowens poured in 12 points of his own.
Champagnie could not find the magic he had in the first found of the ACC Tournament. His 31 point effort in the first game was stifled in game two. He left the game around the 1:30 mark with 9 points. He’ll likely be back in the fold for Pitt next year as an intriguing player to keep an eye on.
Many experts said N.C. State needed to win this game to remain on the proverbial bubble for the tournament. The Wolfpack likely have played themselves into the tournament, but a win over Duke might solidify their spot in the Big Dance.
For Pitt, their only way in was to win five games in five days and be crowned ACC Tournament champions. They’ll end the season with a 16-17 record. There’s still hope for more postseason play for Jeff Capel’s team. Pitt could earn a spot in the well-respected NIT Tournament.
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