March 10, 2005
By KEITH PARSONS
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Ilian Evtimov had five 3-pointers in the first half and
scored 18 points, helping North Carolina State hold off Florida State 70-54
Thursday in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Engin Atsur added 17 for the Wolfpack (18-12), who moved on to the
quarterfinals and a rematch with Wake Forest. In the teams’ previous meeting
earlier this week, Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul punched N.C. State’s
Julius Hodge in the groin, leading to a one-game suspension for Paul.
Even though Paul won’t be there Friday, the matchup is sure to be
emotionally charged, particularly considering how the Demon Deacons won that
game. Justin Gray hit a tying 3-pointer in the final minute, then Paul drove
the length of the court in the final seconds for a runner to win it.
That loss dropped the Wolfpack to 7-9 in the ACC, so even their dominating
victory over the Seminoles (12-19) likely won’t be enough to secure an at-large
bid to the NCAA tournament.
Hodge had 14 points and seven assists to help N.C State coach Herb Sendek
improve to 12-8 in the ACC tournament. Point guard Tony Bethel left early in
the second with an injury to his left leg, and his status for the rest of the
season wasn’t immediately clear.
For Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, the outcome at the MCI Center
probably took him back to his days as coach of the Washington Wizards. He went
19-63 in his first season, then resigned after a long meeting with then-boss
The Seminoles scored only 19 points in the first half – two more than their
previous low – and shot 31 percent. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack took control, with
Evtimov leading the way.
The 6-foot-7 forward is the perfect piece for their Princeton-style offense,
a deft ball handler and passer who has tremendous shooting range. He swished a
3 about a minute into the game to give N.C. State the lead for good at 3-0, and
he added four more during the rest of the half to tie the school record for
3-pointers in an ACC tournament game.
The Wolfpack stretched the margin to 24 points in the second half before the
Seminoles used a furious rally to get to 59-51. Al Thornton capped the comeback
with a putback before N.C. State finished off their fourth straight
opening-round victory at the free throw line.