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Seminoles don't have ACC win away from home

3/13/2004

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Marcus Melvin stepped up when North
Carolina State needed him the most Friday night.

Melvin made two big 3-pointers in the second half and Julius
Hodge scored 19 points to lead the Wolfpack past Florida State
78-71 in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals.

Ilian Evtimov and Cameron Bennerman each scored 17 points for
No. 17 N.C. State (20-8), which has won 12 in a row against the
Seminoles, its longest winning streak ever over an ACC rival.

N.C. State will face Maryland -- an 87-86 winner over No. 15 Wake
Forest 86 -- in Saturday's semifinals.

Melvin helped N.C. State come back after falling behind by 11
with 13:08 left. His first big 3 capped an 8-2 run and gave the
Wolfpack a 63-62 lead with 4:03 left.

He then hit another 3 for a 70-67 lead with 1:32 remaining.

"I felt it," said Melvin, who finished with 16 points and
eight rebounds. "Whenever I caught the basketball, I knew I was
going to shoot it because I was in a pressure situation and that's
the situations that I would like to be in."

Tim Pickett scored 23 points for the Seminoles (18-13), who have
lost their last five games and weakened their NCAA tournament
hopes. They outrebounded the Wolfpack 32-29, but committed 16
turnovers.

"They made big plays when the game was on the line," Florida
State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "You have to give them credit.
It's sometimes not as much what we did wrong as what they did
right.

"They've got guys who are very capable of knocking down those
shots."

Pickett, who was questionable before the game with an injured
right ankle, opened the second half with three straight 3s and an
assist before spraining his left ankle with 17:24 left. He
eventually returned but only had six points after the injury.

"I asked myself what else could happen," Pickett said about
the injury. "I tried to keep my head in the game and work at
keeping my teammates involved."

N.C. State overcame Pickett's effort by hitting 11 of 26
3-pointers, including six of its last eight attempts. N.C. State,
which has made it to the ACC tournament title game the last two
seasons, also made 19 of 22 free throws.

Playing without injured guard Scooter Sherrill, who sprained his
ankle against North Carolina on Feb. 29, N.C. State had four
players in double figures.

"That's when we're at our best," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek
said. "I think our guys understood that in order to have a chance
to come back in the game that they would have to make each other
better."

Bennerman was a key part of the balance. The Greensboro native
had a career high in points for the second straight game. His steal
and dunk with 30 seconds left made it 74-68.

"With Scooter hurt, I just have to bring as much energy as I
possibly can and do whatever it took for us to win," Bennerman
said. "Obviously that took me putting up some points and playing
good defense."

Von Wafer also had 14 points for the Seminoles, who shot 49
percent from the field but made only 10 of 17 free throws.

"Florida State played as hard as anyone can play," Sendek
said. "I was certainly proud of the way our guys responded in the
second half with the same kind of effort."

N.C. State center Jordan Collins sprained his left knee in the
second half, and is questionable for Saturday's game.