Wake Beats NC State On Last Second Shot

The Demon Deacons close out the regular season with a dramatic win against the Wolf Pack.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Chris Paul hit a running shot at the buzzer Sunday night to lift No. 4 Wake Forest past North Carolina State 55-53.

Paul finished with nine points and six assists for the Demon Deacons (26-4, 13-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won 10 of 11 games. Justin Gray added 15 points and a clutch game-tying 3-pointer to set up Paul's final shot.

Ilian Evtimov scored 19 points to lead the Wolfpack (17-12, 7-9), which had several chances to win the game and improve their uncertain NCAA prospects.

With the Wolfpack leading 53-50, Gray nailed a 3 right in front of the Wake Forest bench with 12.8 seconds left. Engin Atsur tried to answer with a hurried 3-pointer that fell well short of the rim and out of bounds, giving the Demon Deacons the ball with 4.2 seconds left.

Paul did the rest. The sophomore inbounded the ball to Vytas Danelius, who sent it right back. Paul then weaved through the retreating Wolfpack defenders, bounced off a bump from Atsur and launched a fadeaway shot from about 12 feet.

The ball swished through the net at the horn, sending the Demon Deacons onto oncourt celebration -- and giving Paul the last word on a testy night in Raleigh.

Wake Forest finished second in the league standings thanks to North Carolina's win against Duke earlier Sunday.

In a play that set the tone the rest of the night, Paul hit Julius Hodge below the belt during a battle underneath the basket, sending the reigning ACC player of the year to the court with 12:48 left in the first half.

With Hodge laying on the ground, his older brother, Steve, walked onto the court to see if Julius was OK -- and to yell toward Paul on the Wake Forest bench. Steve Hodge walked off the court, and arena security soon instructed him to leave the court area.

Once Hodge got up, he angrily yelled and gestured toward the Demon Deacons sideline on his way back to the bench.

A few minutes later, Hodge was whistled for a technical foul when he gave Paul a shove after the sophomore had fouled him in the post.

From there, Paul was booed loudly every time he touched the ball, and N.C. State fans began chanting "Dirty Deacons!"

N.C. State had several chances in this one, but went just 9-for-22 from the free-throw line -- including a miss from Tony Bethel with 24.1 seconds left that allowed Gray to tie the game with his 3.

The loss could prove damaging to the Wolfpack's NCAA tournament hopes. N.C. State was ranked as high as No. 12 and started 10-1 this season, but lost nine of its next 12 games in a season full of injuries and unfulfilled promise.

The senior class of Hodge, Jordan Collins and Levi Watkins had led the Wolfpack to three straight NCAA tournaments after an 11-year absence, but the Wolfpack likely will need a strong showing at this week's ACC tournament to solidify their standing.


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