ACC: Atlantic Coast Champs

By - March 11, 2007

Technical difficulties conspired to sabotage the ACC subdivision of Hang Time on Sunday afternoon -- but your faithful narrator was still able to catch all the action from the St. Pete Times Forum while speaking (for the entire second half) with the surprisingly helpful if maddeningly deliberate Sony Vaio Tech Support people on my cell phone.

Perhaps not enough North Carolina State fans made travel plans for Tampa as the team struggled through its five-win campaign during the conference season because the Forum was Dean Dome South today. Each Carolina basket induced deafening cheers from all around, drowning out the small but spirited Wolfpack section tucked behind the basket near the North Carolina band.

Despite having played three games in three days to reach the championship round, the 'Pack were game early. The lead changed hands 12 times during the first half before the Heels used an end-of-half spurt to stake a 42-34 edge at the break.

Subbing as many as five players as a time, the Heels appeared to wear down their undermanned opponents during the second half as the lead ballooned to 16 points. But Brandon Costner, Gavin Grant and Courtney Fells headlined an electric 29-14 run that pulled N.C. State within a single point at 70-69 -- before the rested and collected Heels finished off the underdogs in the endgame.

Carolina's lights-out foul shooting -- the Heels were 23-of-24 (95.8 percent) from the stripe -- limited the drama in this one. And their de facto home crowd was no doubt a help to a team that won its first ACC title since 1998.

Posted by at 04:25 PM on March 11, 2007

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