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James' clutch 3-pointer makes winner out of Marquette

Dec 23, 2008 - 5:13 AM RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Although he is short in statue, Dominic James came up with a handful of big shots on Monday.

James hit a 3-pointer with four-tenths of a second remaining to lift No. 25 Marquette to a thrilling 68-65 victory over North Carolina State.

After Dwight Burke blocked a shot in the lane by Ben McCauley and James grabbed the loose ball with 30 seconds left, the 5-11 senior guard came out of a timeout and dribbled down the clock before coming off a screen to his left and knocking down his fourth basket from the arc.

"We knew exactly what they were going to do (at the end of the game)," Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said. "We changed our defense to try and block (James). He reversed his dribble and got the three. We made the mistake and he made us pay for it. He made plays a senior of his caliber would."

"The key to that shot was the timing," Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams said. "A lot of times when a team gets the ball in that situation, the tendency is to score too soon and leave time on the clock. Dominic kept his poise and shot it at exactly the right time."

Due to James' poise, the Wolfpack (7-2) did not have enough time to answer although McCauley did catch a long pass and hit a shot from inside the arc after the buzzer sounded. The officials reviewed the play, and replays clearly showed that the senior forward still had the ball in his hand as the red light around the backboard lit up.

James finished with 18 points, including two other big 3-pointers in the closing four minutes, and six assists for the Golden Eagles (10-2), who won their second straight game since a tough 80-68 loss to Tennessee on Tuesday.

"Dominic (James) has played at an ultra-high level for us all season, even before he hit so many big shots tonight," Williams said. "Playing the point guard and engaging the defense every possession, you have to play with a high level of intelligence, and Dominic does that for us."

Jerel McNeal scored 20 points and Lazar Hayward chipped 16 and six rebounds for Marquette, which shot 61 percent (14-of-23) in the second half to come back from a 35-32 deficit at the half.

Brandon Costner scored tied a season high with 24 points for NC State, going 5-of-5 from the arc.

The junior forward also went over 1,000 career points when he completed a layup to cut the Wolfpack's deficit to 62-59 with 3:30 remaining.

James answered back with the second of consecutive 3-pointers, but Courtney Fells also sank a basket from the arc for NC State to keep the game within a possession at 65-62 with 2:38 to play.

After a turnover by James, Costner knotted the score for the seventh and final time by catching and shooting a 3-pointer from near the left corner with 1:58 left. He finished 9-of-10 from the field with eight rebounds.

Costner came up with another big play on the defensive end, drawing a charge on Hayward. Yet, McCauley missed two free throws with 1:19 remaining.

Hayward was off the mark on a jumper for Marquette, which then got its fourth block of the game from Burke to set up the heroics of James.

Fells had 12 points and freshman Tracy Smith 10 for the Wolfpack, who had a seven-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half but went on to finish with 18 turnovers.

"I liked our chances," Lowe said. "I didn't think we'd turnover the ball like we did. We didn't execute our defense the way we needed to."