North Carolina State led by as many as 16 in the second half of its second-round matchup with Saint Louis, and Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack looked ready to advance to the third round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. But the No. 12 Billikens and coach Jim Crews had a plan up their sleeves, and that plan turned a big deficit into an 83-80 overtime victory.
It had a lot to do with N.C. State's 66 percent foul shooting figure for the season.
Saint Louis trailed by 14 points with five minutes to play after N.C. State's best player, T.J. Warren, scored a bucket and drew a foul. Warren missed the free throw with a comfortable-looking 59-45 lead, but that was only the beginning of the foul shooting woes.
Saint Louis began hunting fouls and put the Wolfpack on the line 20 times in the final five minutes of regulation. N.C. State only made nine of those attempts as the lead evaporated.
A minute remained when Warren went to the foul stripe, and as if expecting to miss, he stepped into the paint to corral a rebound and was called for a lane violation. Seconds later with the Wolfpack clinging to a five-point lead, Anthony Barber missed two more in a row, and the Billikens followed those up with a three-pointer by Jake Barnett that cut the lead to two.
Saint Louis wasn't hitting its foul shots either.
Jordair Jett got fouled on a layup with 18 seconds left, but missed the free throw that would have given his Billikens a 71-70 lead. Instead, Saint Louis was forced to go into overtime with a 70-all tie. Warren, who went 6-for-14 at the foul stripe, later missed with a crucial opportunity. In overtime, N.C. State forced a turnover with a press and Warren scored plus the foul with 38 seconds left. Instead of tying the game at 81-all, Warren missed. That was the game.
In the end, N.C. State went 20-for-37 (54 percent) from the foul stripe.
The Billikens went 12-for-26 (46 percent) for the game, but the result was still a win for Saint Louis, which advances to face the winner of Louisville and Manhattan in the round of 32.