WICHITA, KS (GoPack.com) – The NC State men’s basketball team dropped its first round NCAA Tournament game to eight-seed Seton Hall, 94-83, Thursday afternoon inside Intrust Bank Arena.
With the loss, NC State concludes the first season under head coach Kevin Keatts with a 21-12 record.
Seton Hall jumped out to a 27-16 lead eight and a half minutes into the game as the Pirates opened the game by hitting 10 of their first 13 shots.
NC State responded by hitting three consecutive three-pointers in 50 seconds to cut the deficit to 27-25 with 10:17 left in the first half. Allerik Freeman hit a three-pointer to start the run, Torin Dorn connected on one 30 seconds later and on Seton Hall’s next possession Markell Johnson had a steal and then threw ahead to Freeman who buried another three.
The Pack got within one, 32-31, a few minutes later on a lay-up by Johnson, but Seton Hall scored the next seven points to take a 39-31 lead on its way to a 51-41 halftime advantage.
In the second half, Seton Hall got a three-point play by Angel Delgado on its first possession to take its biggest lead of the game, 54-41, with 19:13 to go. The Pack scored the next eight points of the game to cut the deficit to 54-49 with 17:22 to play.
But Seton Hall always had an answer for every NC State run as the Pirates scored eight of the next nine points to push the lead back to 62-50 with 14:25 to go.
The Pack had another push in it, cutting the lead to 63-60 with 11:39 to play and 69-66 with 8:13 to go, but the Pirates 8-0 run to take a 77-66 lead with 5:53 left effectively ended the game as the Pack never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Freeman scored a career-high 36 points in his final collegiate game. The Charlotte, N.C. native was 12-of-19 from the field, including 6-of-8 from three-point range, and 6-of-7 from the foul line. The 36 points are the second-most ever by an NC State player in the NCAA Tournament. David Thompson scored 40 points in the Pack’s win over Providence in the regional semifinals in 1974.
Dorn registered a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Johnson added 12 points and four assists. Lennard Freeman in his final game at NC State, scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds off-the-bench.
NC State was called for a season-high 30 fouls in the game as Braxton Beverly, Johnson and Omer Yurtseven all fouled out. Seton Hall only shot 9-of-27 from the field in the second half, but offset its 33.3 percent shooting by connecting on 25-of-31 free throws in the final 20 minutes.
The Pirates finished the game 31-of-39 from the foul line (79.5%), while NC State hit just 59.3 percent of its free throw attempts (16-of-27).
Seton Hall was led by Khadeen Carrington with 26 points and Desi Rodriguez added 20 points off-the-bench.
The Pirates advance to the second round and will play one-seed Kansas on Saturday.