COLLEGE PARK -- There must be something about Cole Field House that makes North Carolina State fire away from beyond the three-point line. And there must be something about being anywhere near the University of Maryland that makes Wolfpack guard Migjen Bakalli turn into, uh, Rodney Monroe.
The Wolfpack, which set Atlantic Coast Conference records for three-point shots attempted and made in its regular season game here, blitzed Southern Mississippi with another barrage yesterday. And Bakalli, who made eight straight three-pointers against the Terrapins last month in Raleigh, had six in the row against the defenseless Eagles.
The result was a 114-85 blowout for N.C. State in the opening round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament's East Regional. The Wolfpack set a regional record for points and tied one for three-pointers made (12). Bakalli, a 6-foot-6 freshman, tied an NCAA tournament record by hitting all six of his three-point attempts.
"It was just a great performance," said N.C. State coach Les Robinson, whose 20-10 team will advance into the second round tomorrow against Oklahoma State. "We put it together at both ends of the court. We couldn't play any better than we did."
Certainly Chris Corchiani couldn't have. The senior guard made seven of eight shots from the field -- including all three of his three-point attempts -- eight of eight from the foul line and tied backcourt mate Rodney Monroe with a game-high 25 points. Corchiani, the NCAA's all-time assist leader, added to his total with 11.
With a little over 14 minutes left and a 60-54 lead over Southern Mississippi (21-8), the Wolfpack went on a 25-4 run -- or rather run-and-shoot. With Monroe suffering through an 8-for-22 afternoon -- he missed 10 straight shots in one stretch and was one of nine on three-pointers -- Bakalli picked up for his more famous teammate.
"They were laying off me," said Bakalli, who had not hit a three-point shot since his streak against Maryland four games before. "They weren't giving me any respect."
Not that the Wolfpack was so strong on defense until the second half. But one adjustment -- switching junior forward Tom Gugliotta onto Clarence Weatherspoon in the second half -- made all the difference. After scoring 15 in the first half, Weatherspoon, a two-time Metro Conference player of the year, finished with a quiet 21.
"Today was a tough day for us, and we've experienced a lot of those lately," said Eagles coach M. K. Turk, who got a first-half technical that helped swing the game in N.C. State's favor and then waited a little too long to call timeout in the second half. "We were a very good team for 22 or 23 games, but it seems like our overachievers ran out of overachieving medicine or something."
Though it was the Wolfpack that goes only six deep, Southern Miss played token defense, if that, for much of the second half. The Wolfpack was 22 of 36 from the field after halftime, and when Monroe missed, Gugliotta (15 points, 11 rebounds) or sophomore center Kevin Thompson (13 boards) were usually there.
"I didn't try to force my shots," Monroe said. "We rebound the three-point shot so much, and we shoot so much in practice, that it comes in handy. I'll just keep shooting and, hopefully, they'll all go in."
For Corchiani, they nearly did. He had the kind of day that got him kidded for the one shot he missed, a reverse spin layup on the baseline with 6:45 to go in the game. "I know," he said when reminded of his lone miss. "I should have passed it."
And Bakalli probably would have made another three.
For the records
NCAA tournament record tied in N.C. State-Southern Mississippi game yesterday:
Consecutive three-point shots made without missing for the game: 6-for-6 by N.C. State's Migjen Bakalli, tied NCAA tournament mark set by Mike Buck of Middle Tennessee State (against Florida State) in 1989.
East Regional records set or tied:
Most points: 114, most in an East Regional game. Previous record was 113 by North Carolina against Penn in 1987.
Most three-point shots made: 12, tied an East Regional record set by Michigan against Navy in 1987.
Most three-point shots made, two teams, one game: 20, set an East Regional record. The old mark was 18 -- Siena (11), Stanford (7) -- in 1989.