NC State shocks top-seeded Villanova

Pittsburgh, PA ( - Add another monumental upset to the list for North Carolina State this season.

Except this one punched its ticket into the Sweet 16.

Trevor Lacey had 17 points and six rebounds, Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman added double-doubles and the eighth-seeded Wolfpack shocked No. 1 seed Villanova 71-68 in third-round action from the East Region.

Abu posted 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Freeman supplied 11 points and 12 boards for NC State (22-13), which stormed back from a 16-point second half deficit to beat LSU in the second round.

The Wolfpack handed Duke its first loss in January and added road wins against Louisville and North Carolina in February.

"We respect Villanova, but we've seen good teams," NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. "We've seen a lot of them in our conference. You see them about every night. So a league like that prepares you for games like tonight."

Saturday's stunner was aided by a poor Villanova shooting performance.

The Wildcats, who shot a season-high 63 percent during their second-round win against Lafayette, were 31.1 percent (19-of-61) from the floor in this one and connected on just 9-of-28 from beyond the arc.

Darrun Hilliard hit a trio of 3-pointers in the final 1:29 and his final one pulled the Wildcats within 69-68 with 1.4 seconds remaining.

Ralston Turner sunk a pair of foul shots at the other end, but Josh Hart's ensuing inbounds pass downcourt was thrown into a sea of NC State players and intercepted.

Hilliard was 6-of-10 from 3-point range and Phil Booth was 3-of-4 from long distance, but the rest of the Wildcats combined to go 0-of-14.

NC State also outrebounded them 45-32.

Hilliard finished with 27 points and JayVaughn Pinkston provided 13 points and six boards for Villanova (33-3), which had won 16 straight games coming in.

This is the second straight NCAA Tournament the Wildcats have been upset in the third round. They were beaten by eventual national-champion and seventh- seeded Connecticut as a No. 2 seed last year.

"I know we have to answer to the fact that we did not get to the second weekend again," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "It's not going to define us within our program. It's going to define us outside of our program, and we accept that."

The Wildcats trailed by as many as 12 in the second half but two Pinkston free throws preceded his three-point play to cut the deficit to 62-59 with 2:26 remaining.

NC State, though, answered with a pair of baskets as Lacey hit a tough step- back jumper from the left elbow and Anthony "Cat" Barber drove in for a layup to extend the advantage back to seven with under two minutes to play.

Hilliard then sandwiched a pair of 3s around a 1-of-2 effort from the charity stripe by Barber for a 67-65 Wolfpack lead with 44 ticks on the clock.

Villanova's full-court pressure forced an errant pass from Lacey, but Dylan Ennis' trey from the top of the arc was off the mark. Barber was fouled again, but hit both of his bonus shots this time to make it a two-possession contest.

Earlier, six straight points from the Wolfpack helped them race out to a 13-7 margin.

Hilliard hit a 3 to make it 13-10 and neither team led by more than four the rest of the half. Lacey's right wing 3 at the horn staked NC State to a 32-28 cushion at the break.

The Wolfpack began the second half on a 13-5 run to build their 12-point spread. Barber found Abu for a layup to cap the surge for a 45-33 margin at the 13:29 mark.

Game Notes

This is the second time that a Gottfried-coached team has knocked off a No. 1 seed in the Round of 32. His 2004 Alabama team knocked off top-seeded Stanford in the second round ... Villanova was 21-of-23 from the foul line ... The Wildcats were 5-of-16 from beyond the arc in the second half ... Abu pulled down six of NC State's 13 offensive rebounds.