N.C. State beats Temple, 74-71
Undated (AP) _ By Leonard Laye
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - The surest bet along the casino-lined Boardwalk on Saturday afternoon was Rodney Monroe.
Too bad he’s not old enough to try the slot machines.
But basketball was all that mattered for North Carolina State, and Monroe cashed in. He burned Temple for 33 points as the Wolfpack defeated the Owls 74-71 at Convention Hall.
Scoring is not unusual for Monroe. He’s averaging 22.8.
But the way he scored and the game’s script was about as unusual as the setting, about 70 miles from Temple’s home base in Philadelphia.
Monroe hit seven of nine shots, five of six from beyond the three-point arc, and scored 20 in the first half. He stretched the total to 33 without a single field goal in the second half, making 13 of 14 free throws.
″I was drawing fouls and scoring, so I guess it really doesn’t matter how you get the points,″ Monroe said.
The Owls, after trailing by eight early in the second half, came back aggressively and seized a 69-68 lead with two minutes 35 seconds remaining. It was, obviously, either team’s game at that stage.
But the Wolfpack kept the ball in Monroe’s hands, frequently screening off defensive players to get him free to accept passes. And Temple kept fouling him, first trying to prevent his soft, sure shots, then putting him on the line hoping he’d miss and allow the Owls to regain possession.
No such luck.
Monroe put the Wolfpack on top to stay, making both shots of a one-and-one with 2:21 left. Nineteen seconds later, he hit two more on a one-and-one for a 72-69 N.C. State lead. Then with 12 seconds to play, he got a similar opportunity and provided two more for the Wolfpack’s final points.
Temple had the last shot. But three seconds before the buzzer, star guard Mark Macon missed it, ironically on a two-point attempt because his foot was on the three-point line instead of behind it.
The result was N.C. State’s 11th victory in 13 games and the second escape of the week, following Wednesday’s 79-77 win over Clemson on Tom Gugliotta’s late jump shot.
″It was a strange game,″ said Wolfpack coach Jim Valvano. ″Usually when Rodney isn’t scoring (from the field), someone else provides the offense.
″But today, we had a couple of guys not on their (shooting) rhythm. Fortunately, Rodney got fouled and hit all those free throws.″
Gugliotta, averaging 12.1 on 58.3 percent marksmanship, made only three of 11 shots and scored six. Chris Corchiani, Monroe’s teammate in the starting backcourt, averages 12.9 and shoots 40.7 percent, but he hit one of seven shots and scored two.
Brian Howard with 17 and Brian D’Amico with 11 helped make up the difference.
Monroe was a workhorse, joining Corchiani in the man-to-man part of a triangle (zone)-and-two defense N.C. State used much of the afternoon. The two took turns guarding Macon, who scored 18.
″When we play that triangle and two, we’re running around and chasing people and it takes a lot out of you,″ Monroe said.
That was part of the reason Monroe attempted only four field goals and missed all of them in the second half. The other was the defense of Mik Kilgore, who at 6-8 is five inches taller than Monroe. He was also much more physical than Macon (6-5) and Michael Harden (6-2) had been in shadowing Monroe in the first 20 minutes.
The Owls had opened in a zone, but Monroe drove them out of it right away, opening the game with back-to-back three-pointers.
The hot shooting early - each team started by making five of six - produced a barrage of points and had the game on pace for 100 or more points apiece.
But the shooting and the pace cooled. N.C. State wound up hitting 44.2 percent, Temple 45.8 percent.
″I thought we did everything right, but it turned out wrong with the score,″ said Owls coach John Chaney.
″We didn’t want to foul Randy, it’s just that he kept getting the ball. It’s a tough situation to be in when a team has a player like that.″
Chaney didn’t know Monroe’s first name. But he knew a sure bet when he saw one.