Instead, he sprinted 90 feet down the court. And when Grant's 3-pointer bounced up off the rim, McCauley came barreling down the lane from out of no where to slam home a game-winning follow-up dunk as the buzzer sounded.
"No one really blocked me out," McCauley said. "I think they were thinking it was the last shot of the game and I went straight for the ball. I didn't want to lay it up or anything I just threw it in."
Official Karl Hess went to the video monitor to make sure the dunk was through the hoop before time expired, signaling a made basket after a quick look at the replay. The signal set off the Wolfpack celebration as the team walked off the court with a 67-65.
"Ben wouldn't accept that was the end of it," Lowe said. "It's very satisfying to see our guys make a play like that, to win a game like that."
The win helps the Pack (14-7, 3-4 ACC) climb out of the cellar in the ACC standing, back into a jumbled mess in the middle of the group. State and the Deacons (13-7, 3-4 ACC) are now tied with two other teams in the league with a 3-4 record, one game behind Maryland and Clemson who are each 4-3 as the ACC season nears the halfway point.
"We've won a couple like this but this has to have our energy level bouncing at an all-time high," Grant said. "We needed to get this one, because the league is wide open after the first two teams."
Grant led the Pack with 17 points, one of four State players in double figures. Courtney Fells added 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting despite playing only 21 minutes because of foul trouble. McCauley added 11 points and J.J. Hickson recorded his fourth consecutive double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
State also won by taking care of the ball, giving it away just nine times for the team's lowest turnover total of the season. They also vastly improved their shooting after halftime, shooting just 30 percent in the first half but 48 percent after the break.
The Pack battled from behind all day, starting out slow and taking a seven-point deficit into the locker room. The Deacons held tight to their lead for most of the second half as well, with the Pack taking its first lead at the 2:55 mark thanks to a vicious Hickson reverse slam to make it 62-61 in favor of the Pack.
"It was a long time there, we were just trying to battle," Lowe said. "Trying to keep it close and chip away at it."
The Pack had an opportunity to put the game away from the line, but Grant missed 1-of-2 and Hickson missed both of his shots in the final 40 seconds to let the Demon Deacons tie the score. The Deacs made it 65-65 when Ishmael Smith drove into the lane and hit a running floater with five seconds remaining before McCauley providing the dramatic heroics.
"We had an opportunity there with those free throws and we missed those free throws," Lowe said.
Still, the Pack escapes with yet another close win. Four of the Pack's 14 victories have been won on the final play.
"We've played in these kind of games, we know what it takes to win," McCauley said. "That's going to help us a lot on the road."