RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State waited until the last play to avoid an ugly home loss in a disappointing season, not to mention extend Boston College’s long Atlantic Coast Conference losing streak.
Maverick Rowan scored a layup off an inbounds pass as time expired to help the Wolfpack beat the Eagles 73-72 on Wednesday night in its home finale.
N.C. State (15-15, 5-12 ACC) trailed by 13 in the first half and nearly the entire second half.
"I’m not going to kid myself and go home tonight and think that we played great tonight," Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. "We did not. But we found a way to win and our guys never quit."
After Jerome Robinson had hit one of two free throws with 17.2 seconds left for a 72-71 lead, N.C. State had a frantic possession that saw the Wolfpack miss two 3-pointers before a battle for the rebound sent the ball bouncing out of bounds under the basket with 1.1 seconds left.
With Caleb Martin inbounding the ball, the Wolfpack’s first option was ACC leading scorer Anthony "Cat" Barber. But Rowan rolled into the paint with Robinson on his hip, then slipped behind Sammy Barnes-Thompkins for a pass and easy putaway that came well before the horn and stood up on review.
"Cat was supposed to be cutting and coming back to the ball, and I was the second option coming off the two screens there to go around," Rowan said. "It was a little congested over there so I just cut directly to the hoop. Caleb made a great pass and I finished."
Barber finished with 24 points for the Wolfpack, while Rowan added 13 points and two key late-game 3-pointers.
Dennis Clifford scored 18 points to lead the Eagles (7-23, 0-17), who were on the verge of earning their first win since beating New Hampshire in overtime on Dec. 30.
The Eagles are flirting with becoming only the sixth team in league history to go winless in league regular-season play and first since Maryland went 0-14 in 1986-87. Worse, throw in an 0-8 league record in football, and the Eagles are one loss away from being the first team in ACC history to go winless in both sports in the same academic year.
#Wolfpack's Maverick Rowan on how he was so open on the final play: "I pushed off."
BC came in shooting 41 percent, but shot 52 percent in the first half and 48 percent for the game. But in a tight finish, BC coach Jim Christian pointed to the Eagles’ struggles at the foul line.
"The game (came down to) we shot 9 for 18 from the free-throw line," he said. "That killed us."
Boston College: BC led 35-31 at the break, only its third halftime lead in an ACC game all year. … The Eagles’ biggest lead in an ACC game before Wednesday was nine against North Carolina on Feb. 9, according to STATS. … Eli Carter finished with 14 points.
N.C. State: Junior BeeJay Anya blocked two shots to set the Wolfpack’s career record, breaking the mark of 207 set by Thurl Bailey from 1979-83. … Abdul-Malik Abu scored N.C. State’s first 11 points but finished with just 12. … N.C. State had its own struggles at the line, making 11 of 19 for the game.
Gottfried praised Caleb Martin as a "quiet hero" in the game. The sophomore wing finished with 13 points, including one of the team’s back-to-back 3s after BC had pushed to a 67-60 lead with 5 minutes left, to go with his final-play assist.
"Caleb had poise," Gottfried said. "He wasn’t in a hurry taking the ball out of bounds and he made the right pass."
Boston College hosts Clemson to close the regular season Saturday.
N.C. State visits Notre Dame in Saturday’s regular-season finale.