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<B>CORAL GABLES, Fla. –</b> The North Carolina State Wolfpack (10-4, 0-1) dropped their ACC opener 67-66 to Miami (10-3, 1-1) in their first ever trip to Coral Gables. They had a chance to win the game after a timeout with seven seconds left, but a shot by Cameron Bennerman missed giving Miami their first ever ACC victory. <P>

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    With the capacity crowd on its feet and North Carolina State needing a defensive stop down 65-63 with less than 25 seconds to play, Engin Atsur was called for a shooting foul on Guillermo Diaz. Diaz stepped to the line and made both free throws. The Wolfpack moved quickly up the court and Atsur made up for his foul and nailed a three-point shot from the wing with 14.8 seconds remaining as N.C. State trailed 67-66.

    N.C. State quickly fouled on the inbounds pass and Diaz missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation. Wolfpack head coach Herb Sendek called a timeout with 7.5 seconds left to design a play. Ilian Evtimov drove hard down the lane, but kicked the ball out to Cameron Bennerman for a baseline three-point shot. Bennerman's shot in the backside of the backboard going out of bounds as the Wolfpack performance fell short.

    "It is a bang-bang play and Evtimov had to make that determination on the fly whether or not he is going to continue to go with it or kick it out," Sendek said. "When Cameron caught it in the corner, he had a little bit more time to shoot than he realized."

    The Wolfpack loss was their third straight loss after starting the season 10-1. They were out rebounded 40-27 and gave up 17 offensive rebounds.

    "It was a hard fought loss," Sendek said. "Losing is never easy. Guys battled and we had a chance to win down the stretch. Our guys gave a great effort. We just fell a little bit short today. After the game I told our team we have got to hang together."

    Evtimov led the Wolfpack in scoring for the first time this season with 19 points and Julius Hodge, who was battling through a back injury he suffered last week, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

    The outside shooting by the Wolfpack was something they have been working on and it carried over in today's game as they sank 12-of-24 three-point shots including 7-of-11 in the first half.

    "We started the season shooting pretty well and we went through a cold spell," Sendek said. "It was good to see us back on target today."

    At the beginning of the game N.C. State showed their patience on offense in the early going working the Miami zone until they found an open shot. Freshman Andrew Brackman started off hot sinking three three-point shots in the first five and a half minutes of the game to give the Wolfpack an early 13-8 lead.

    On defense the Wolfpack started off the game playing a tough zone defense that never allowed the Hurricanes to get comfortable on offense as they forced shots early in the shot clock. Miami head coach Frank Haith was frustrated with his team's performance and substituted frequently to get a good mix of players on the court.

    "We just felt by watching them on tape, that a zone could be effective against them," Sendek said. "We switched up our defenses throughout the game and we didn't come into the game thinking we could just play one defense."

    Leading throughout the first half, N.C. State was forced to call a timeout after Miami cut the lead to four points with four minutes left in the half. Following the timeout Miami got a quick basket, but the Wolfpack held onto a narrow lead heading into the half until Diaz sank a three-point shot just before the halftime buzzer to tie the score at 34-34.

    In the first half the Wolfpack were led by two unlikely heroes, Andrew Brackman and Ilian Evtimov, who exceeded their scoring average in only a half of basketball. Brackman led the Wolfpack at the break with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

    The teams went back and forth in the second half and the Wolfpack trailed Miami 57-53 with seven minutes left in the game, but then Evtimov came up with his fifth three-pointer of the game to tie the score at 57-57.

    Leading 61-57 Miami bounced right back with a big three-point shot of their own from Diaz to close the gap to one point with four minutes remaining in the game. Diaz's shot ended an 8-0 run by N.C. State.

    After Hodge failed to convert a lay-up, Miami came down the court and got a basket from Anthony King and was fouled on the play. King's free-throw gave Miami a 63-61 advantage with 2:36 remaining.

    "A lot of guys made big plays," Miami head coach Frank Haith said. "King's three-point play was huge."

    Miami was led by Diaz who scored 26 points and is averaging 26.5 ppg in ACC play. The Hurricanes also got 19 points from leading scorer Rob Hite.

    NOTES: Tony Bethel, who has been dealing with an illness, did not play… Brackman hit four three-point shots and came into the game making just six all season…Bennerman has scored a total of 15 points in the three losses after scoring a career-high 24 against Columbia…N.C. State made a season-low six free-throws.

    NEXT: January 13 vs. Duke at 7:00 p.m. in Raleigh.


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