for this game

Fells, NC State halts North Carolina winning streak

Feb 4, 2007 - 2:56 AM RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- North Carolina State continues to shake up the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.

Courtney Fells led five players in double figures, scoring a career-high 21 points to lead the Wolfpack to an 83-79 victory over No. 3 North Carolina.

Three days after knocking Virginia Tech from the top of the conference standings, North Carolina State (13-8, 3-5 ACC) did likewise to the Tar Heels, building an 11-point lead and holding off their fierce intrastate rival down the stretch.

The Wolfpack were steely efficient in the second half, hitting 13-of-17 shots and only some shaky foul shooting in the final minute kept the outcome in suspense.

"You have to admire what they've done the last two games," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "I don't know that I've ever had a team shoot 76 percent in the second half against us before. I have no answers. They had more passion for the game than we did, and I don't understand that. I never will understand that. They dominated us."

Fells made the biggest shot of the game, burying a 3-pointer to give the Wolfpack a 76-71 lead with 3:07 to play. That halted an 11-2 run by North Carolina, fueled by Tyler Hansbrough, who scored nine points in the spurt just moments after being whistled for a technical foul.

"It was one of those shots down the stretch when the other team is making a run and we need to stop it," NC State coach Sidney Lowe said of Fells' shot. "We moved the ball around the horn and found him when he was open."

The Tar Heels (20-3, 6-2), who had a five-game winning streak snapped, twice got the deficit down to two points but couldn't pull even despite the Wolfpack missing 4-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds.

"We're getting the looks we need and knew that those shots would fall," Lowe said. "I keep saying we need to be patient and the guys did a good job waiting and forcing (North Carolina) to play defense for more than 40 seconds. I thought our offensive attack was great.

"We made a few turnovers, but we kept our heads up and made huge shots. We finished the ballgame the right way."

Ben McCauley scored 17 points, Gavin Grant added 16 and Brandon Costner 15 for N.C. State, which shot 60.5 percent (26-of-43) to end a six-game losing streak against North Carolina.

Hansbrough, a 6-9 sophomore, became the sixth-fastest player to reach 1,000 points in his career at North Carolina, scoring 24 on 9-of-16 shooting.

With 7:04 left in the game, Hansbrough swiped at Costner while battling for a loose ball. The Wolfpack converted it into four points, but Hansbrough came alive, scoring five straight points and then capping the 11-2 run with a steal and dunk to bring the Tar Heels within 73-71 with just over 3 1/2 minutes left.

"(Hansbrough) is a handful. He's active, he's aggressive," Lowe said. "Our bigs held their positions and made it tough for him to do what he normally does."

Freshman Ty Lawson added a season-high 21 for the Tar Heels, who had averaged a winning margin of 27 points in their five-game winning streak.

"There's a certain amount of toughness needed to play this game," Williams said. "They didn't give us the trophy last week when we beat Arizona (92-64). We went out today and got our butts kicked."