Wednesday, March 7, 2018

BC upsets NC State, moves into ACC Tournament quarters

Jerome Robinson led Boston College with 26 points as Eagles shocked NC State to reach ACC Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo by David Welker/Atlantic Coast Conference, used with official permission)
By Jason Schott (@JESchott19)

BROOKLYN -- The No. 12 seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament is through to the quarterfinals, as Boston College upset No. 5 seed North Carolina State, 91-87, Wednesday afternoon at Barclays Center.

The Eagles (19-14) got incredible performances from Jerome Robinson, whose 26 points led all scorers, and Ky Bowman, who added 24 of his own. Nik Popovic also contributed to the cause with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Steffon Mitchell chipped in with 15 boards, six of which came on the offensive glass.

Jordan Chatman had 12 points for the Eagles on 4-of-8 shooting, with all his completed baskets coming from behind the arc.  He now ranks second among ACC players with 84 three-pointers, second only to Notre Dame's Matt Farrell, who leads the ACC with 89 heading into their game Wednesday evening against Virginia Tech. NC State was led in the losing effort by Allerik Freeman, who scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and 5-of-7 from three-point range. Omer Yurtseven had 20 points (8-for-16 FG) and nine rebounds, just missing a double-double for the Wolfpack.

Boston College led 45-31 at halftime, and by as many as 17 points, before NC State (21-11) responded with an 11-4 run to pull within 10 after Freeman's three-pointer with 15:52 to play made the score 55-45. The Eagles would expand the lead back to 16 with 9:29 to play before the Wolfpack slowly chipped away, eventually tying the score at 75 when Yurtseven culminated an 11-0 run on a jumper with 4:17 to play in regulation.

The teams traded baskets until Robinson gave Boston College an 87-85 lead with 17 seconds left, and followed that up with a block on an inbounds pass with 11.8 seconds left. Bowman then went to the line and drained two free throws to make it 89-85. Markell Johnson, who had 10 points, six assists, and five rebounds in the game, responded with a layup with seven seconds left to bring NC State back within two, at 89-87. He then brought back memories of Chris Webber in the 1992 Final Four, when he called a timeout that NC State didn't have. The result was a technical foul on Robinson, who went to the line for two free throws. Robinson drained the pair of free throws to seal the 91-87 win for the Eagles.

With the win, Boston College moves on to face Clemson, the No. 4 seed, at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals, with the winner to meet either Virginia or Louisville in the semifinals on Friday.

"Just a tremendous game," head coach Jim Christian said as his Eagles reached the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2013. "I thought that both teams played unbelievably hard, and I just thought the resilience, the toughness, the mental toughness that we showed down the stretch when they came back, huge step forward for our team, for our program. I couldn't be more happy for these guys for these things that they've gone through. To have moments like this makes it all worthwhile. That was a gutsy effort."

"I thought we were a little slow getting started," NC State head coach Kevin Keatts said. "Obviously we got in a big deficit early, and we had to battle back at halftime. We talked about obviously staying the course, and I felt like if our guys stayed the course, and obviously we made some shots, we would get back in the game because I thought our press could get us back in the game. And certainly we did and put ourselves in a situation to be able to win the game at the end."

With the loss, the Wolfpack appears to be back on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but is projected to be on the safe side. Regardless, Keatts addressed the team's Selection Sunday plans and argued in favor of his program and its body of work.

"Well, we'll get together as a team. We haven't decided, obviously, where we're going to watch it, but I'm excited about our team," he said. "Our body of work is pretty good when you think about what we've done in a short amount of time and look at winning -- beating five top-25 teams and winning on the road and a couple wins against the No. 2 team in the country."

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