Grant’s free throws lift N.C. State past Davidson
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—Gavin Grant knew respect-starved Davidson was tantalizingly close to finally knocking off somebody from Tobacco Road.
Then the North Carolina State forward stepped to the free-throw line and denied the Wildcats that coveted signature victory.
Grant’s two foul shots with 3.9 seconds left lifted the Wolfpack to a 66-65 victory over Davidson on Friday night.
“They needed a win over a big-time program, and I thought they came in here thinking they could get one today,” Grant said. “They played their tails off, but we were able to pull this one out.”
N.C. State trailed 65-64 after star Stephen Curry’s 3 with 43.5 seconds remaining gave Davidson its first lead since the first half, and on the Wolfpack’s trip downcourt Grant and Ben McCauley both missed shots in the lane. Grant rebounded McCauley’s miss and was fouled during his putback attempt by Thomas Sander.
After Grant swished both free throws, Davidson inbounded the ball to Curry, who dribbled upcourt and uncorked a desperation shot from half-court that was online but bounced off the rim.
“Anything that leaves Steph Curry’s hands has a chance to go in,” coach Bob McKillop said.
Grant finished with 15 points and Brandon Costner added 13 for the Wolfpack (6-3), who shot 44 percent and outrebounded the Wildcats 40-25.
Curry scored 29 points for Davidson (4-6), which remained winless this season against the Atlantic Coast Conference’s three schools from east-central North Carolina. The Wildcats, who have reached the past two NCAA tournaments, lost to instate foes Duke, North Carolina and now N.C. State by a combined 11 points.
“We had a tough schedule, and it’s kind of a different situation where we’re not surprising everybody,” Curry said. “We had so much success last year, and people are going to give us their best shot. We’ve just got to get ready for it, take it and try to overcome it.”
N.C. State led for most of the way, but Davidson kept the Wolfpack from pulling too far away. They led by eight three times, the last of which came when Courtney Fells’ 3-pointer from the right wing with about 12 1/2 minutes left made it 50-42.
Davidson kept things close with clutch 3-point shooting when it mattered, making 8-of-15 from behind the arc in the second half. Curry’s late 3 snapped a late-game funk during which he missed six consecutive shots.
Still, he once again was the most reliable shooter from long range on his team—he was 7-for-15 from 3-point range, while the rest of his teammates combined to shoot just 4-for-13.
“Curry, with his ability to make shots, they’re always in the game,” N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said.
Jason Richards finished with 14 points for Davidson. McCauley added 11 points and freshman J.J. Hickson had 10 for the Wolfpack, who have won two straight and avoided a second home loss to a mid-major. New Orleans came to the RBC Center and stunned N.C. State on a late 3-pointer.
“It scared me a little bit when Curry took that shot—I was thinking, ‘Not again,”’ Lowe said.
The Wildcats fell to 4-38 against ACC teams under McKillop, and lost their 16th straight against teams from that conference since a 2001 victory at North Carolina.
“We’re right there. We’re just not playing 40 minutes,” Curry said. “Their defense kind of wears us down a little bit. They make it hard to get easy shots. That kind of gets you down towards the end, but we’ve just got to figure out a way to make 40 minutes and get key stops down the stretch.”
They’ve lost 36 of 37 in the series with N.C. State. Their only win in that span came in 1993-94.