COLUMBIA, Mo. — North Carolina State’s leading scorer, Cat Barber, is no stranger to buzzer-beaters, including a 3-pointer as time expired in the Wolfpack’s 76-73 win over High Point Wednesday.
Though it wasn’t a game-winner, Barber hit a 3-pointer to close the first half of what became a 73-59 victory over Missouri Saturday night.
Barber scored 33 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists as North Carolina State handed Missouri its first home loss.
North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried secured his 100th victory, becoming the second fastest coach in school history to reach that milestone behind Everett Case. Gottfried gave Barber a lot of the credit.
"I think he has kind of put this team on his back," Gottfried said. "He’s done it every night for us. He’s made big shots. He leads by example. He’s the hardest working guy in practice every single day. I’m really proud of him."
Cullen VanLeer led Missouri with 12 points, shooting 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Tramaine Isabell added 10 points while Terrence Phillips and Wes Clark each scored seven.
VanLeer said Barber’s mid-range shot makes him particularly difficult to guard.
"He’s just a good athlete, and then he has a mid-range game, which most people don’t have anymore," VanLeer said. "When a guy can stop and pull up on a dime, most people don’t know how to guard that and he’s got that pretty much down."
Abdul-Malik Abu had 13 points to go with 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Abu shot 4 of 8 from the field and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line in only 17 minutes.
Missouri (5-5) jumped out to a 19-9 lead after holding the Wolfpack (8-3) scoreless for the first four minutes. North Carolina State started slow, shooting 4 of 12 in the first ten minutes. Barber was 4 of 6 from the field during that stretch while the rest of North Carolina State was 0 of 6 from the field with one point, a free-throw by Lennard Freeman.
K.J. Walton assisted Russell Woods on a dunk in transition, igniting the crowd near the end of the first half. Barber then silenced the crowd on the ensuing possession by hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Wolfpack a one-point lead.
"It was a good shot," Barber said. "Time running down, coach told me to go, so that’s what I did. It was good that we knew we were up one, but that didn’t matter. We still had to come out in the second half and be ready to guard and play."
North Carolina State was able to carry the momentum of that shot into the second half, opening on a 21-10 run. The Wolfpack maintained the lead for the final 18:39, leading by as many as 20 in that time.
The Wolfpack dominated the glass in the second half, outrebounding Missouri 25-13 after matching the Tigers’ rebounding total of 16 in the first half. North Carolina State won the offensive rebounding margin 15-7 and scored 20 second-chance points to Missouri’s three.
"We knew the key to the game was going to be rebounding," Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. "Obviously in the second half, they took total control of the inside."
"We just didn’t come out with the same intensity to start the second half as we did the first half," VanLeer said. "We just got down and couldn’t come back."
Free-throws proved to be the difference in the game, as Missouri struggled defensively after halftime. After attempting only seven free-throws in the first half, North Carolina State attacked the basket aggressively, making 20 of 23 free-throws in the second half.
The Tigers shot 8 of 19 from the foul line, five fewer attempts than their season average.
Missouri: Namon Wright has emerged as the Tigers’ top rebounder, averaging five per game after only 2.3 per game last season … Missouri is averaging 24.6 free-throws per game compared to the 17.5 it averaged last season … Phillips went to Oak Hill Academy with North Carolina State’s Cody and Caleb Martin, who are identical twins.
North Carolina State: BeeJay Anya is the ACC’s active career leader in blocked shots with 169, including 31 this season … Freshman guard Maverick Rowan reclassified to the class of 2015 after earning his high school diploma over the summer … With this victory the Wolfpack now lead the all-time series against Missouri 3-2….
Missouri plays Illinois Wednesday in the 35th annual Braggin’ Rights at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
North Carolina State hosts North Carolina-Greensboro Tuesday.