"I knew I was going to make the free throws and I knew the game was over," McCauley said. "I was just letting out my emotions right there. It was such a great feeling."
McCauley needed to sink one free throw to ice the game for NC State, and he calmly sank both. The final two points of the game for the Wolfpack helped hold off a late run by the Eagles, as the Pack picked up a 74-69 win on Wednesday night in its final regular season game at the RBC Center.
"Just like we planned, just like was scripted," McCauley said. "This was great – it's so good to go out with a win."
The win gives the Pack its sixth conference victory of the season, the most ACC wins under coach Sidney Lowe. The third-year coach won five conference games in his first year and four last year, as the Pack dropped its final nine games of the season. But this year's team played significantly better in the seasons final months, going 5-4 since the end of January. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Pack, moving them to 16-12 overall and guaranteeing the team a winning record on the year.
"We still felt good about ourselves even though we didn't play good against Maryland," Lowe said. "We were all disappointed in that."
The senior center led the way offensively on Senior Night, scoring 20 points and grabbing six rebounds to lead the Pack in both categories. Tracey Smith added 14 points while both Courtney Fells and Dennis Horner scored 11 on the night. The night wasn't as favorable to the senior forward Fells, who did not play in the second half after suffering a groin injury.
"Not good right now – we'll have to wait and see," Lowe said of the injury. "He was having trouble actually walking off the floor when I was walking with him."
After allowing Maryland point guard Greivis Vazquez to score 33 points, the Pack contained Boston's talented point guard Tyrese Rice. The senior scored 14 points but was just 5-of-12 from the field and 0-for-5 from behind the arc, as Javi Gonzalez kept Rice in check for most of the night.
"Javi was great," Lowe said. "He's a tough young man and that's a tough challenge to play again Rice. I thought he did a nice job of just staying in front of him. That was a big key for us that we didn't allow him to go off and that's certainly a credit to Javi."
The Eagles jumped out to an early lead thanks to some hot shooting, hitting their first eight shots on the way to taking a six-point lead. But when the Pack defense locked down, the team found its stride. Fells got the offense going with two straight 3-pointers as the home team went on a 13-0 run to take control of the game while Boston College shot just 27 percent for the rest of the half.
Appropriately, Fells and McCauley led the way in the first half on senior night. Fells was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc and scored 11 points while McCauley led all scorers with 13 points in the first half, including six of the Pack's final nine points at the end of the half. State shot a scorching 59 percent from the floor, including 5-of-7 on 3-pointers while out rebounding the Eagles and committing just five turnovers. The Pack finished with a 9-2 run to take its biggest lead of the night, 43-34 going into the locker room.
The Pack quickly squandered that lead as the Eagles started another half with a quick offensive burst. The home team fell behind briefly but rallied back into the lead, then used a quick 5-0 run to make it an eight point game with under four minutes left. That's when Boston College made its final push, with Rakim Sanders hitting three straight 3-pointers to cut the lead to two points.
The Pack made things difficult for itself in the final seconds, missing two of its next three free throws, giving the Eagles a chance in the final seconds before McCauley finished the game with his two makes at the charity stripe.
"It's just the perfect way to end my career at home," McCauley said. "We still have one more game left but this its definitely the best way to end it at home."