McCauley’s dunk lifts N.C. State past Wake Forest

Published 4:04 am Monday, February 4, 2008

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH — Gavin Grant caught Wake Forest off guard by hoisting a long 3-pointer in the final seconds for North Carolina State. When it missed, Ben McCauley leaped and delivered the biggest surprise of all.
McCauley’s stickback dunk as time expired lifted N.C. State to a 67-65 victory over the Demon Deacons on Sunday.
Ishmael Smith appeared to have forced overtime for the Demon Deacons when he hit an acrobatic shot in the lane with 5 seconds left. McCauley inbounded the ball to Grant near midcourt, Grant raced downcourt and uncorked a 3 from the right wing that bounced off the rim.
McCauley leaped over James Johnson and Jamie Skeen and dunked the rebound with his left hand just before the buzzer, sending the Wolfpack into delirium along the baseline while Wake Forest’s players could only stare in disbelief.
Grant finished with 17 points for N.C. State (14-7, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), which handed Wake Forest its 10th straight road loss in league play. The Wolfpack’s last three victories have been by a combined seven points.
Freshman Jeff Teague scored 17 points to lead the Demon Deacons (13-7, 3-4), who shot just 28 percent from 3-point range in their seventh straight loss away from Winston-Salem.
N.C. State erased a late seven-point deficit with a 17-7 run, with the Wolfpack taking their first lead when J.J. Hickson’s reverse dunk with 2:55 to play made it 62-61. The lead grew to 64-61 when McCauley hit two free throws, before Teague’s runner in the lane made it a one-point game.
Grant hit the second of two free throws with 38 seconds left to make it 65-63, and Hickson could have iced it — but he missed two free throws with 13.4 seconds left, giving Smith a chance to force OT.
Smith finished with 15 points and Johnson had 10 for the Demon Deacons, who outrebounded N.C. State 43-37 but allowed McCauley to grab the biggest rebound of the game.
Courtney Fells scored 14 points and Hickson added 10 for N.C. State, which made 12 of its 25 shots in the second half — and was 6-of-10 from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes.
Wake Forest’s struggles with a perpetually young lineup on the road have been well-documented, with the Demon Deacons having dropped 19 of 20 ACC road games.
They haven’t beaten a league team away from the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum since they went to Miami and knocked off the Hurricanes on Jan. 6, 2007. Their previous ACC road victory came in 2005 when Skip Prosser’s then-No. 3 Demon Deacons beat N.C. State in Raleigh in a game perhaps better known for guard Chris Paul punching the Wolfpack’s Julius Hodge in the groin.
Wake Forest took command early, twice leading by nine in the first half, with the second such lead coming when Chas McFarland’s jumper over Hickson made it 27-18 with about 4 minutes before halftime. The Demon Deacons extended their lead to nine just once in the second half, with Harvey Hale’s reverse layup with 11 minutes left pushing the lead to 48-39 before N.C. State switched to a zone defense and started its big rally.