Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m sad. Not angry about anything, not bothered in any way about what happened, just sad that I’ve seen the last NC State basketball game of this season. The Wolfpack gave Seton Hall a good shot in the second half, but the Pirates fended State off, and the better team prevailed by a 94-83 margin.
Al Freeman poured it out in his final college game, scoring 36 points on 12-19 shooting, but he didn’t get enough help. Braxton Beverly did not make a shot, and Omer Yurtseven managed only two points.
State pulled to within three with about eight minutes remaining in regulation, but then a string of poor offensive possessions—two dumb turnovers and one out-of-control drive by Freeman—let Seton Hall expand its lead back to double digits. That span pretty much doomed that latest rally attempt, and as it turned out, State didn’t have any more of them in it.
Seton Hall never trailed on Thursday afternoon, always found an answer when NC State would string a few shots together and close the gap to one possession. All due credit to the Pirates, they were better without doubt, and they deserve to get their shot at Kansas on Saturday.
NC State simply did not get enough from its lineup; Freeman’s heroic efforts helped keep NC State in the game and both Markell Johnson and Lennard Freeman played well, but beyond that, efficient contributions were lacking. And NC State also lost both the rebounding and turnover categories in this one. Those are extremely difficult circumstances to overcome, and State didn’t have a miracle in them. That’s okay.
I am bummed and disappointed and all of the other emotion things that happen when a State season ends in the NCAA tournament, but while I thought this result would bother me for a day or three, I can tell already that it won’t. This was a good season and a great start to Kevin Keatts’ tenure and I’m still amazed we got this far.
It’s not like this was something we’d been building toward for years—this wasn’t everything coming together, like a talented team getting one last shot to make a mark. Nah, this is all new. And it’s going to get better.