Chatham Journal Newspaper

NC State Wolfpack battles back to take down Pitt

Pittsburgh, PA – The NC State men’s basketball team held Pittsburgh to just two points over the final 5:54 to defeat the Panthers, 72-68, Wednesday evening inside the Petersen Events Center.

NC State improves to 14-7, 4-4 in the ACC with the win, while Pitt falls to 8-13, 0-8 in the ACC.

The Pack trailed by nine, 66-57, with 5:54 to go after a Kene Chukwuka lay-up, but would hold the Panther without a field goal over the next 5:42 to come back.

Torin Dorn started the run with two free throws to cut the deficit to seven. After an empty possession from both teams, Braxton Beverly got the Pack back within four with a three-pointer. On the Pack’s next possession, Allerik Freeman buried a three to bring NC State within one, 66-65, with 3:52 to go. After a Pittsburgh timeout, both teams again traded empty possessions before Beverly knocked down a three with 2:49 to go to give the Pack its first lead since the 10:22 mark of the first half.

Both teams went scoreless for almost 2:30 minutes after Beverly’s three until Dorn hit a jumper in the paint with 17 seconds to extend NC State’s lead to four. Pittsburgh drove down the lane and hit a lay-up with 12 seconds to go to cut the lead in half, but Allerik Freeman calmly knocked down two free throws with 8.5 seconds to play to put the game out of reach.

The Pack opened the game with a 17-6 burst. Allerik Freeman completed a three-point play with 15:05 to go in the first half to give NC State an early 11-point advantage. But the Pack would go scoreless for nearly five minutes from that point, allowing Pitt to go on a 13-0 run to take the lead. A Sam Hunt three-pointer put the Pack back in the lead and another Hunt three two minutes later brought the Pack back within one at 24-23, but Pitt hit eight three-pointers in the first half to build a lead on NC State. The deficit great to 15 at one point in the first half, 43-28, with 2:18 to go on a Khameron Davis three-pointer.

The Pack scored the final five points of the first half to go in the locker room down 10, 43-33. Pitt never gave up the lead until the final minutes of the game, but could never build on its lead in the second half as the Panthers largest lead in the second half was 11.

Omer Yurtseven was nearly perfect from the field to lead NC State in scoring. The sophomore center was 6-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line to finish with 16 points. Markell Johnson reached double figures in assists for the second consecutive game as he finished with a game-high 12 assists and a game-high three steals. Allerik Freeman finished with 13 points, while Dorn added 12 points. Hunt and Beverly finished with nine points, both players scored all of their points on three-point baskets.

While the Pack tied its season-low by shooting just 33.8 percent from the field, NC State did finished the game a perfect 15-of-15 from the foul line.

NC State is back in action Saturday at noon when it plays at UNC-Chapel Hill at noon in a game that will be televised by CBS.