No Sherrill, no problem for Wolfpack in 78-71 win

Seminoles' loss damages NCAA hopes

Duke wins

College Basketball

March 13, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

GREENSBORO, N.C. - N.C. State handled the absence of Scooter Sherrill better than Florida State did Tim Pickett's turned ankle, as the second-seeded Wolfpack used a 7-1 spurt in the closing minutes to repel the Seminoles' upset bid, 78-71.

No. 17 N.C. State (20-8) will meet Maryland in today's second semifinal at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Florida State (18-13) suffered a crippling blow to its dwindling hopes for an NCAA tournament bid.

It was the Wolfpack's second straight win without Sherrill, a veteran guard who is sidelined with an ankle injury. Pickett, an All-ACC first-team selection, had five three-pointers when he turned an ankle with 17:24 left and the Seminoles on top, 42-36.

Seventh-seeded Florida State (18-13) had a 51-42 lead when Pickett returned with 11:58 left, but he had just one basket the rest of the way. With the score tied at 67, he missed a three. Marcus Melvin then hit one at the other end with 1:35 left, and N.C. State never looked back.

"I felt it," said Melvin, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. "Whenever I caught the basketball, I knew I was going to shoot it because I was in a pressure situation and that's the situations that I would like to be in."

Julius Hodge had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, and he slowed Pickett down the stretch. Sophomore Cameron Bennerman, making just his third start, filled the void left by Sherrill's absence, scoring 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

The only Seminole to score in double figures other than Pickett was freshman Von Wafer, who had 14.

No. 5 Duke 84, Virginia 74: Daniel Ewing took care of business in the first half, when he collected 18 of his 26 points. Shelden Williams took over in the second, when he produced 18 of his game-high 27, compiled on 8-for-9 shooting from the field.

Ewing, a junior guard, would be NBA lottery material if he played here more often. Ewing dropped a career-high 32 on Virginia in last year's quarterfinals. He followed that with two more strong showings en route to being named MVP of last year's tournament, which was also held at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The fifth-ranked and top-seeded Blue Devils (26-4) seemed to toy with eighth-seeded Virginia (17-12), which was working on 15 hours rest after winning a play-in game against Clemson. That was the first ACC tournament win in the six-year tenure of embattled coach Pete Gillen. His team had surged its way onto the NCAA tournament bubble entering March before losing the regular-season finale at Maryland.

"For them to play like this in such a short amount of time speaks volumes about the way that team has been the last month of the season," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Freshman J.R. Reynolds led Virginia with 20 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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