(22) NC State 63

(21-8, 10-6 ACC)

Wake Forest 76

(15-15, 3-13 ACC)

    4:00 PM ET, March 4, 2006

    Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-salem, North Carolina

    1 2 T
    #22NCST 30 3363
    WAKE 42 3476

    Top Performers

    NC State: G. Grant 21 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Stl

    Wake Forest: E. Williams 22 Pts, 16 Reb, 2 Stl

    Williams' double-double helps Wake whip No. 19 N.C. St.

    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Beating a ranked opponent for the first time didn't erase all the frustration in a surprisingly bad year for Wake Forest.

    Still, any little bit of success helps.

    Eric Williams had 22 points and 16 rebounds to help the Demon Deacons beat North Carolina State (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today; No. 22 AP) 76-63 on Saturday, a rare highlight in a season of unfulfilled expectations.

    Justin Gray scored 16 points for the Demon Deacons (15-15, 3-13 Atlantic Coast Conference), who head into next week's league tournament as the 12th seed despite entering the season ranked 18th nationally. It was their only win against a ranked opponent in eight tries, and the first since beating fourth-ranked Duke in February 2005.

    There were plenty of reasons why the Demon Deacons handed the Wolfpack (21-8, 10-6) a third straight loss to close the regular season. They shot 61 percent to build a 12-point halftime lead and pushed that margin to 17 points after the break. They took a 45-32 edge on the glass. They held N.C. State -- one of the ACC's top 3-point shooting clubs -- to 4-for-29 from behind the arc in a miserable shooting day (26 percent).

    "We're not a team to quit," Williams said. "We've lost close games and it's been a rough season, but it wouldn't have been right if we'd laid down and just rolled over."

    The losses weighed heavily on Williams, Gray and the rest of the seniors. They helped the Demon Deacons win an ACC regular-season title as freshmen, reached the NCAA round of 16 as sophomores and teamed with All-American point guard Chris Paul to earn the school's first No. 1 ranking as juniors.

    The way Gray figures, that class -- which ranks as one of the most successful in school history -- has a final chance to leave an impression.

    "People always will remember the last couple of things you do," said Gray, who shot just 3-for-17 but had six assists with no turnovers. "Hopefully this win can catapult us to get some more wins in the tournament."

    The feeling was far different for the Wolfpack, which played without injured leading scorer Cameron Bennerman. N.C. State had a week to shake off consecutive home losses to North Carolina and Boston College, but couldn't bounce back and heads into the league tournament with little momentum.

    "I guess we're going to go in under the radar now," said senior Ilian Evtimov, who had just two points on 0-for-4 shooting in 27 minutes. "People are going to say that we're not playing real well. But that's not a bad situation to be in, knowing that you are a very good basketball team that's just going through a bad stretch."

    Bennerman, who averaged a team-high 13 points, sat out with a pulled hamstring that kept him out of practice this week. That opened the door for Gavin Grant to make just his second start in the past 23 games, and the sophomore responded by scoring 21 points to come within a point of matching his career high.

    But he was the only Wolfpack player to step up in Bennerman's absence. Engin Atsur scored 23 points but shot 5-for-16 from the field and 2-for-10 on 3-pointers, while Williams completely outplayed Cedric Simmons in the paint.

    Simmons, a 6-foot-9 sophomore averaging 12 points per game, finished with 10 but didn't make a field goal.

    The Wolfpack got no closer than seven points in the final minute, and the team's frustrations bubbled over late when Tony Bethel was whistled for a technical foul for elbowing Gray to the ground on a dead ball. Bethel fouled out, and Michael Drum and Gray hit three free throws to make it 74-63 with 47.7 seconds left.

    In fact, N.C. State managed to hang in the game by shooting 29-for-34 at the foul line. The number of whistles irked coach Skip Prosser enough late in the first half that he complained to official Mike Eades, who fired back, "Well, they've got to quit fouling then."

    But that was about the only thing that didn't go Wake Forest's way.

    N.C. State ranked second in the ACC in 3-point shooting (39 percent) and led the league with an average of 9.5 made 3s per game. But the Wolfpack missed its first 12 shots behind the arc, and couldn't rally after Wake Forest built a 42-30 halftime lead.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 63 76
    FG Made-Attempted 15-57 (.263) 23-51 (.451)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-29 (.138) 8-22 (.364)
    FT Made-Attempted 29-34 (.853) 22-31 (.710)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 24 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 17

    2005-06 Season

    Jan 21, 2006 @NCST 92, WAKE 82Recap
    » Mar 4, 2006 @WAKE 76, NCST 63Recap
    Mar 10, 2006 WAKE 82, @NCST 71Recap