St. Bonaventure men let another opportunity for a statement win slip away.
The Bonnies were once again in a position to win against a big-name opponent, but an incredible last-second play gave N.C State a 67-65 win in front of 5,802 at the Blue Cross Arena on Tuesday night.
In a game that was close and highly entertaining, the final 3.1 seconds proved decisive. Eric Mosley of St. Bonaventure drove the lane, got fouled and hit both free throws to tie the game, 65-65.
Then came the money play for N.C. State of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
C.J. Williams threw his inbounds pass the length of the floor. C.J. Leslie caught the pass under the basket, flipped the ball toward the rim, watched the ball bounce then fall through for the win.
"It was a get-it-done type shot," Leslie said. "I saw the best fit for the shot and took it. It felt good leaving my hands."
"The odds are against you, no question," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "That's a hard pass to make to be accurate. It's also hard to catch that pass the length of the floor. I thought [Leslie] did a nice job concentrating on catching the ball and then had the sense and wherewithal to turn it into a good play, a heck of a play for us."
Officials put 0.8 seconds on the clock but Bona was unable to make a play.
"That last play is going to be talked about but I told our team that it's not just about the last play," Bona coach Mark Schmidt said. "There were a lot of possessions in that game. When it comes down to the last play, it's going to be magnified, but there are a lot of plays in the game and if we make one or two of them it doesn't come down to that last play."
This marks the third heartbreaking loss in Blue Cross Arena in three years for the Bonnies, who last year fell to Virginia Tech in overtime and dropped a one-point decision to St. John's in 2009.
It also marked another win the Bonnies (5-5) failed to close out. The team had opportunities for wins on the road against two teams in the national polls -- Cleveland State (receiving votes) and Illinois (No. 24). This was another opportunity for a signature win against a solid opponent in a power conference. Instead, the Bonnies have another chance to learn from adversity.
"You try to bounce back the next game," Schmidt said. "If you're a competitor, you bounce back. That's the season. Everything is not going to go your way. Life is not going to go your way. That's what we're going to do, bounce back."
The Bonnies jumped out to a 9-0 lead and weathered an N.C. State rally in the first half. Mosley came up with a steal and fast-break layup and then hit a long jumper in the closing seconds to give Bona a 39-37 halftime lead.
The Bonnies shot 50 percent in the opening half (15 of 30) and committed just four turnovers. But the offense struggled in the second half. Bona shot just 29.2 percent (7 of 24) and while it made some plays, it couldn't find a groove in part because the Wolfpack held Bona big man Andrew Nicholson to just six points in the second half.
"I thought we did a much better job of not letting them get second shots, which they did early on," Gottfried said of his team's second-half defense. "We made it tough on Nicholson in the second half" with double teams.
Scott Wood led all scorers with 20 points for N.C. State (7-4) while Nicholson and Demitrius Conger each netted 16 for Bona. Mosley added 15 from the bench.