Maryland beats N.C. State in first round of ACC tournament

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Jordan Williams had 16 points and 13 rebounds to help Maryland beat North Carolina State 75-67 on Thursday night in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Dino Gregory added 11 points for the seventh-seeded Terrapins (19-13), who snapped a three-game losing streak and led the entire night. Maryland led by 17 points in the first half and never let the 10th-seeded Wolfpack (15-16) get closer than six in the second half, earning a matchup with fifth-ranked Duke in Friday's quarterfinals.

Tracy Smith had 14 points to lead N.C. State, which had a miserable shooting performance in what could be the final game for fifth-year Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe. N.C. State shot 34 percent, including 2-for-17 from 3-point range, and couldn't pull off the same kind of magic they had in a pair of deep ACC tournament runs under Lowe.

The Terrapins needed this win considering how they had likely fumbled away their NCAA tournament at-large chances by closing the regular season with three straight losses, two of which coming to lower-seeded Miami and Virginia. But the Terrapins shot 45 percent while playing from ahead all night against the Wolfpack.

Maryland didn't have a lot of drama with this one, scoring the first six points and taking a 31-14 lead on James Padgett's tip-in of his own missed shot with 8:51 left in the first half.

That prompted a timeout call from a visibly angry Lowe, who chastised his team after watching the ball just fall right to Padgett instead of going up and snatching the rebound.

The Wolfpack responded from an effort standpoint, closing the gap to six points late in the half and trailing 42-33 at the break. But N.C. State just never could overcome that bad start, leaving Lowe -- who donned the red blazer he traditionally wears for big games -- looking for answers on the sideline the rest of the night.

Now he'll have to wait for an answer on his future with the program he led to a national championship as a player in 1983.

Lowe entered with an 86-77 overall record while going just 25-55 in ACC play. He also hasn't made the NCAA tournament after inheriting a program coming off five straight NCAA trips. There have been a handful of exciting moments, including a surprise run to the ACC tournament final in his first season and a trip to the ACC semifinals last year.

Yet those moments proved fleeting, with the Wolfpack failing to finish higher than ninth in the ACC under Lowe while struggling to sustain any momentum from big wins.

N.C. State athletics director Debbie Yow has said there would be no decisions on Lowe's future until after the season is complete. Now, barring an unexpected invitation to the NIT on Sunday night, that's exactly where things stand.

In some ways, this game was a metaphor for N.C. State's entire season. Picked to finish fourth in the ACC, N.C. State closed with four losses in five games to fall to the No. 10 seed here, then couldn't take advantage of repeated opportunities to get back in the game when Maryland wavered.

Maryland pushed its lead to 16 with about 6 minutes left before N.C. State made its final push, twice getting as close as six points in the final minute. But Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin each went 2-for-2 at the line in the last 45 seconds to seal it.

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