OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- After overpowering North Carolina State for the most of the game, Joe Shipp relied on his touch when it counted it most.
Shipp scored 24 points, and assisted on freshman Richard Midgley's 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in overtime to lift eighth-seeded California to a 76-74 win over No. 9 North Carolina State in an East Region first-round game of the NCAA Tournament.
After driving toward the low post and drawing three defenders to the area, Shipp flipped a pass to the left wing where Midgley sank his third and most important 3-pointer of the game.
"With just a few seconds left I just wanted to get the ball in and try and make a play some way, somehow," Shipp said. "I just tried to take it to the hole and it just worked out. When I passed halfcourt, I tried to create and go to the basket, but when I was all the way to the basket I saw a lot of help-side defenders, so I looked up and Richard was wide open and he made the play."
Shipp, the Pac-10 Conference's leading scorer, made 8-of-18 shots and scored in double digits for the 36th straight game. He also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out a career-high five assists.
"If another guy had the ball, we might have called a timeout," California coach Ben Braun said. "You're not going to get a better shot than with Joe. He drew the defense to him and found the open man. He had five assists today and only one turnovers. He has the ability to make the team better. He did it today."
"I just saw Joe go to the bucket and he found me and I hit the shot," Midgley said. "I wasn't really worried about what happened earlier in the game. Basically Joe got the board and took the whole team to the bucket. I spotted up and it felt good when it came out of my hand."
North Carolina State (18-13), which did not lead until less than two minutes remained in the second half, had a chance to win the game, but Scooter Sherrill's 3-pointer from the top of the arc bounced off the back rim as time expired.
"I just hustled down the court and they were able to find me," Sherrill said. "I saw the defense coming at me, so I knew I had to get it off in a hurry. It seemed a bit right when I let it go, but I still thought it might go in. I had a good look. I just didn't knock it down. I may have rushed it a bit."
Sherrill had made 5-of-6 from behind the arc before his last attempt. He gave the Wolfpack a 74-73 edge when he nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing with 12.8 seconds left.
"I thought today's game was a great college basketball contest," NC State coach Herb Sendek said. "It was exciting. Both teams poured their hearts out there today. You have to give credit to California for making a great shot. More than anything, I am proud of he great season that our players have put together. This is a tough one to swallow."
California (22-8) faces top seed Oklahoma in the second round.
Center Gabriel Hughes was another reason for California's inside dominance as he recorded 14 points and nine boards. Midgley and backcourt partner Brian Wethers each scored 11 points for the Golden Bears, who held a 37-32 edge on the boards at the end of regulation.
Shipp scored 15 points in the first half, when the Golden Bears hit half of their 30 shots and held a 39-36 lead. Cal scored the game's first 11 points.
Josh Powell had 17 points and nine rebounds and Marcus Melvin also scored 17 points, but made just 5-of-17 shots for the Wolfpack.
California shot just 29 percent (8-of-28) in the second half and went without a basket after Midgley hit a 3-pointer for a 59-56 lead with 9:09 remaining.
Despite going cold from the floor, the Golden Bears pushed the lead to 63-56, when Shipp hit a pair of free throws with 5:49 left. After a missed 3-pointer by Sherrill, California failed to extend the lead as Amit Tamir, who was just 3-of-16 from the floor, also missed from behind the arc.
Melvin made 1-of-2 free throws with 4:52 left to ignite a 10-2 run. Julius Hodge, who scored 14 points, capped the run with a dunk to give the Wolfpack their first lead of the game at 66-65, with 1:51 left. The dunk came off a long outlet pass by Crawford, who got the rebound after Tamir missed a 3-pointer.
"Cal is a good team," said Hodge, who made 4-of-9 shots, but missed all three attempts from behind the arc. "They play some great team defense. I wasn't out there trying to force any shots. I was just out there trying to run our system. There at the end of the game they just made a great shot."
Conor Famulener made 1-of-2 free throws with 94 seconds left to tie the score, 66-66.
Each team had two chances to take the lead late in regulation. After Clifford Crawford missed a 3-pointer, Powell swatted away a layup by Midgley. The Wolfpack used a pair of 30-second timeouts, but still failed to get a shot off before the shot clock expired.
The Golden Bears called a timeout after getting the ball into the frontcourt. But Powell again came up big, blocking what appeared to be a wide-open layup by Midgley.