In the last game, performed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NC State led at halftime by a score of 33–25. Houston was hampered by foul trouble that plagued celebrity Clyde Drexler, who picked up four first half fouls. In the second half, the Cougars came out with another wind and established control of the game, finally taking a seven-point lead.
However, things were not all good for Houston. Since the match was played Albuquerque, players had to take care of the city’s mile-high altitude. The Cougars’ star centre, Akeem Olajuwon, had problems adjusting to the surroundings and drained quickly, needing to test out of this match multiple times so he could put on an oxygen mask and recuperate. With Olajuwon on the seat, Houston head coach Guy Lewis determined that in order to safeguard the lead and the health of his big man at precisely the exact same period, the Cougars had to start slowing the game down.
Yet more, this allowed the Wolfpack to go back to their standby strategy of extending the game. Houston’s free throw shooting was quite suspect entering the match, which worked heavily in NC State’s favor as they could rally back and even the score at 52 in the last two minutes. On what is the final Houston possession, Valvano called for his players to back off and allow freshman guard Alvin Franklin bring the ball up the court. The Wolfpack defenders would let the Cougars employ their lag strategy of passing around. When the ball got back to Franklin he was fouled immediately. With 1:05 left, the freshman was fouled and sent into the line to get a one-and-one. The idea to filthy Franklin sprung in the enormity of this second; NC State believed that the comparatively inexperienced Franklin couldn’t withstand the strain of going to the line together with the championship at stake and knowing that fifty million viewers were tuned into watch the match. The theory proved right as Franklin failed to convert the Wolfpack caught the rebound. Valvano called timeout with 44 seconds left and drew up a play for senior defender Dereck Whittenburg through the timeout, which required the group to pass him the ball with ten seconds left on the clock so that he could take the last shot.
Houston had a defensive stop in order that they could get another opportunity to close out the match. Lewis made a decision to move from the man-to-man defense his team was running the entire match to a half court zone trap defense. The Wolfpack, who weren’t anticipating the defensive adjustment, were made to deviate and started passing the ball around simply to maintain the Cougars from stealing it. Houston nearly got the turnover it was searching for when Whittenburg made an errant pass to Gannon that Drexler almost came away with before the sophomore regained control of the ball. The ball finally wound up in the palms of protector Sidney Lowe, who gave it to forwards and fellow mature Thurl Bailey in the corner.
Attempting to keep the ball going, as he was double teamed when he received the move, Bailey appeared back toward Whittenburg, that was roughly thirty feet away from the hoop near midcourt. Bailey threw what Whittenburg would call a”poor basic” overhanded pass that Houston’s Benny Anders, guarding Whittenburg about the drama, was in position to steal. At this point, Whittenburg hearkened back to his high school days together with Morgan Wootten at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he was taught to always grab the basketball with both hands. If Whittenburg had not attempted to do this in this circumstance, Anders may have gotten the steal and a game-winning breakaway layup. In college basketball in the time, the match clock continued to run following a made field goal, and the Wolfpack likely wouldn’t have had time to inbound the ball. As it was, Anders knocked the ball out of Whittenburg’s hands, but Whittenburg quickly regained control.
The clock, meanwhile, had ticked down to five seconds and Whittenburg was still standing a substantial distance from the objective. Once he regained control, Whittenburg turned and started a desperation shot, afterwards claimed by Whittenburg for a pass, to attempt to win the game for NC State. The shot’s trajectory took it to the front of the basket where Olajuwon was covering Wolfpack center Lorenzo Charles. As he watched the shooter, Olajuwon said he knew the shooter was likely to come up short but he did not want to go for the ball too early due to the prospect of goaltending. Charles took advantage of the indecision by Olajuwon and went up for the atmosphere balland, in 1 movement, he scored the go-ahead points using a two-handed dunk. The final second ticked off the clock prior to Houston could inbound the ball, and with that, the match ended, and the Wolfpack were the winners.
Read more: more information