Outside the ACC, NC State has been a second-half team this season.
In the ACC opener, the Wolfpack turned on the juice after the half but couldn’t close out Louisville.
Matt Cross’ 3-pointer with 28 seconds left gave Louisville a 73-68 win road win over NC State in the ACC opener on Saturday.
Cross had a key block on Jericole Hellems on the possession prior to his big shot. With 2 seconds left on the shot clock, Cross cut away from the Louisville bench to the deep corner for a desperate 3-pointer.
It fell through the net and NC State’s inspiring second-half comeback fell short.
The Wolfpack trailed by 13 in the second half of Wednesday’s 104-100 quadruple-overtime win over Nebraska. State was down 14 at the half on Saturday.
Hellems led the Wolfpack (6-2) with 18 points. Freshman Terquavion Smith, starting in place of injured guard Casey Morsell, gave the Wolfpack a boost with 17 points.
NC State trailed by 14 at the break, and looked lost without much of an answer for Louisville big man Malik Williams.
Williams had 12 points in the first half but only two in the second half.
A 14-2 run to start the second half got the Wolfpack back in the game and turned up the pressure on the Cardinals (6-2).
Like the double-digit comeback against Nebraska, NC State just kept plugging away.
Dereon Seabron, who entered the game second in the ACC in scoring (21.7 points per game), was relatively quiet with 11 points but his drive and dunk at 8:27 pushed NC State’s lead to 57-52.
Hellems hit a 3-pointer at 3:05 gave NC State a 68-64 lead and it looked like he would be the hero for the Wolfpack.
The Cards scored the next four points. A 3 by Noah Locke at 1:33 tied the game at 68.
With 1:04 left, Hellems tried a jumper from the right wing but it was blocked by Cross. On Louisville’s next possession, coach Chris Mack called a timeout with 2 seconds left on the shot clock and drew up an inbounds play from in front of the Louisville bench.
The pass went across the court to the far corner Cross, who drained a contested 3 to break the 68-68 tie.
Cam Hayes, who finished with 15 points, missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left which would have tied the game. Jarrod West added a pair of free throws with 7 seconds left for the final margin.