No. 5 St. Louis rallies to beat N.C. State in overtime
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Up 14 points with five minutes to play, 12th-seeded North Carolina State looked poised for another bracket-busting upset against fifth-seeded Saint Louis.
Then the Wolfpack started missing free throws. That allowed the Billikens to claw back and force overtime.
And Saint Louis (27-6) pulled out an 83-80 win at the Amway Center, going 5-for-8 on free throws in the final 2:01 of the extra period to seal the win.
"I can't salute these guys enough in terms of how they just stayed with it," SLU coach Jim Crews said. "I don't know how many we were down late, but we were down plenty late. They just stayed with it."
Sophomore guard T.J. Warren -- perhaps in his final college game -- had 28 points for N.C. State (22-14) but went 6-for-14 at the free-throw line, allowing a win to get away.
"Yeah, that's probably the weirdest turn of events that I've been a part of," said Saint Louis' Rob Loe, who had 22 points and 15 rebounds. "We just didn't want to give up. We didn't want to end on that kind of note."
Even in overtime, the free throws cost N.C. State. Trailing 81-76 in the final minute, the Wolfpack got back-to-back baskets: After a layup by Desmond Lee, Warren stole the ball in the backcourt, scored, was fouled and had a chance to tie it with 37 seconds left. But he missed the free throw, and Saint Louis led 81-80 with the ball.
The Billikens, who finished 12-for-26 on free throws themselves, went 2-for-4 in the final 30 seconds to close out the win.
N.C. State led 59-45 with five minutes to play but let Saint Louis back in the game because of its terrible free-throw shooting -- 9-for-21.
"Our players are heartbroken," coach Mark Gottfried said. "Obviously, we're always going to feel like we let one slip away . . . It kind of steamrolled on us there from the foul line."
With his team down by two, Saint Louis' Jordair Jett drove for a basket and a foul, putting him in position to give the Billikens the lead with 18 seconds left, but he missed the free throw.
N.C. State had the last chance to win in regulation, but guard Tyler Lewis' fadeaway jumper missed off the front of the rim with a second remaining, sending the game to overtime.
The Wolfpack got 25 points in regulation from Warren and received strong supporting performances to build that 14-point lead. Ralston Turner had 15 points and another junior guard, Desmond Lee, who came in 1-for-his-last-10 on three-pointers, hit two in a span of two minutes in the second half.
N.C. State led by as many as 11 in the first half but let Saint Louis back in the game with a 7-0 run to end the half. Warren had 10 points at the half to lead all scorers, but the Billikens stayed close by going 5-for-7 on three-pointers, including a 3-for-4 start by Jett.
Saint Louis came in as the higher seed, but the two teams arrived in Orlando going in opposite directions. The Wolfpack had won five of six coming in, including an upset of Syracuse in the ACC Tournament; the Billikens had lost four of five coming in, including their conference championship game to St. Bonaventure.
It's the second time in three seasons the Wolfpack has multiple NCAA Tournament wins after a Sweet 16 trip in 2012.