Holmes hit winning jumper with 1.6 seconds left

DALLAS (AP) -- Armed with tournament upsets in consecutive seasons, Middle Tennessee is no longer content with just being a spoiler.

"Getting any win in the NCAAs is great," guard Patrice Holmes said. "Now, hopefully, we can get to the Sweet 16 this time."

It certainly seems possible for the No. 12 seed, which notched another first-round upset Saturday night with a 60-58 win over fifth-seeded North Carolina State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last season, the Lady Raiders were a No. 13 seed when they knocked off fourth-seeded North Carolina 67-62.

It was Holmes who sent Middle Tennessee (24-8) to the second round, hitting the game-winning jumper with 1.6 seconds left. Holmes set a screen before finding herself open near the top of the key, letting the ball go almost immediately after it touched her hands.

Middle Tennessee players and a few fans rushed onto the court after the final buzzer, celebrating the school's fourth NCAA Tournament win in school history.

Holmes, a senior who has started all 123 games in her career, finished with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting.

Holmes' heroics came after NC State had tied the game with 26.6 seconds remaining on a basket by Tiffany Stansbury, who led the Wolfpack with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The loss ended an emotional year for NC State coach Kay Yow, who in January began treatment for a recurrence of breast cancer. She was forced to skip two games, her first absences in 30 years of coaching.

"We know what Middle Tennessee was capable of," Yow said. "This team beat North Carolina in the first round last year, so we had that knowledge and it was an advantage to us. We knew it would be a tough game."

NC State (21-8) played most of the game without leading scorer Billie McDowell, whose left knee buckled while planting her leg for a jumper with 11:57 left in the first half. She writhed on the floor for several minutes and remained in the locker room for the rest of the game.

X-rays revealed no breaks, but McDowell is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday.

In her absence, the Wolfpack fed the ball inside and tried using their bigger frontcourt to wear down Middle Tennessee. The plan helped NC State build a 10-point lead in the second half before the Lady Raiders scored six straight baskets to get back in the game.

"Coach let us know it wasn't over," Middle Tennessee center Tia Stovall said. "She's telling us to get our heads up. After giving us that pep talk we picked up our defense and executed on the offensive end."

Stovall and Krystle Horton each had 11 points for Middle Tennessee.

Khadijah Whittington scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting for NC State.