It certainly wasn’t sophomore guard Braxton Beverly’s best game of the season, but his buzzer-beating 3-pointer to top Clemson in stunning fashion at PNC Arena Saturday will go down as one of, if not his best, moments in a Wolfpack uniform.
Before hitting the decisive shot from beyond the arc, Beverly had just 9 points and was just 2 of 9 from the field and unsuccessful on all four 3-pointers he had taken up until that point. Despite his struggles offensively on the day, he ended up drilling the most important shot of the game.
“As soon as it left my hand, I knew I made it,” Beverly said. “When I heard the buzzer, I knew it was good.”
After a tough road loss to Louisville, the Wolfpack was on the rails against the Tigers in Raleigh, a loss it couldn’t afford at this point in the season. The Clemson lead swelled to six points with just 35 seconds left, and fans began to exit the arena. Beverly’s 19-point performance on five made 3-pointers against the Cardinals didn’t carry over when the team flew back home, but it ultimately worked out for the Wolfpack.
Beverly struggled for most of the game due to his matchups with the Clemson guards and their ability switch him onto Marcquise Reed, who finished with 19 points, but Beverly and NC State ended up getting the last laugh.
Reed ended up missing four free throws in those final 35 seconds, and the Pack took advantage of those misses. Beverly hit two free throws with nine seconds left to bring the Pack within one point. After Reed missed two free throws of his own on the other end, redshirt junior guard C.J. Bryce grabbed the rebound, stormed down the court and found Beverly open from well beyond the arc.
“It just kind of happened,” Beverly said. “Coach didn’t draw anything up. He trusts us and knows we’ll make the right decision.”
Beverly ended up nailing the 3-pointer over Clemson’s 6-foot-8 forward David Skara as the buzzer sounded, sending PNC Arena into a frenzy and giving the Pack the 69-67 win.
“That’s something we’ve seen from Braxton since the day he stepped foot on NC State’s campus, his ability to shoot and make big shots,” said redshirt senior guard Torin Dorn. “I attribute that to his work ethic and how hard he works at shooting; that’s invaluable for us.”
The Wolfpack bench mobbed Beverly after the shot in excitement, a moment Beverly will cherish.
“It’s incredible,” Beverly said. “It’s incredible to get that kind of support from your teammates after hitting a big shot and getting a big win like we did.”
Head coach Kevin Keatts had a message for his team, one it followed to a tee.
“I told them ‘believe,’” Keatts said. “I thought our guys showed composure. It’s something that we haven’t shown in the past as we continue to develop this program, but I thought our guys did a tremendous job.”
Had Beverly not hit that game-winning shot, the Wolfpack was facing a 3-4 conference record and an upcoming schedule that included No. 3 Virginia, No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 11 UNC-Chapel Hill. With its back against the wall, NC State escaped another tough conference loss thanks in large part to Beverly.
“Getting to defend our homecourt and getting this win, it’s big for us,” Beverly said.
Even when he’s not shooting or playing particularly well, Beverly has proven he’s always a threat to make a big shot in a clutch situation, something he showed today, and his play at the end of the game saved what looked to be an impending loss and turned it into a win Wolfpack fans will remember for a long time.