GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Maryland appeared to be buried at halftime. Then John Gilchrist sparked one of the most impressive comebacks in Atlantic Coast Conference tournament history.
Gilchrist scored 23 of his career-high 30 points in the second half as the Terrapins rallied from a 19-point halftime deficit to stun No. 20 North Carolina State, 85-82, in a semifinal matchup.
It was Maryland's second straight win over a ranked opponent and should cement a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the Terrapins (18-11). Maryland defeated No. 14 Wake Forest, 87-86, in Friday's quarterfinals.
"When you're back against the wall and you know it's do or die time, that's going to show the heart and character of our team," Gilchrist said. "Going through the rough turbulence that we have this season, it really helped us out to deal with situations like that."
The Terrapins, who finished sixth in the ACC in the regular season, advanced to Sunday's final against Duke. Maryland is seeking its first ACC tournament title since 1984.
"A lot of people asked me about what halftime was like," said Maryland coach Gary Williams when asked what he told his players at the intermission. "We talked a lot about tradition. I had a lot of confidence in my players coming out of the locker room."
The Terrapins benefited from a bizarre technical foul against North Carolina State early in the second half. The Wolfpack were called for a technical after one of their managers wiped sweat off the court with a towel. Maryland was trailing, 53-43, at the time.
"We had a manager wiping water off the floor when they (Maryland) either already had inbounded or prepared to inbound," N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said. "We had been warned to get that done earlier in the game. I can't say with any certainty that the technical caused (a disruption)."
More likely, it was Gilchrist taking over the game. Gilchrist, who made the winning free throw against the Demon Deacons with 3.7 seconds left, was unstoppable in the second half, making all nine shots, and also finished with seven assists.
"I knew we'd play better in the second half," Williams added. "I didn't know that would translate into a win but I had no doubt that we could find a way to get it up."
Julius Hodge scored 31 points for N.C. State (20-9), which led, 45-26, at intermission. The Wolfpack appeared to be in good shape for a third straight ACc championship appearance.
But the Terrapins outscored the Wolfpack 33-13 in the first nine-plus minutes of the second half and took their first lead, 59-58, on Gilchrist's 3-pointer with 10:42 remaining.
"We didn't have as much of a lift off the bench that we normally have," Hodge said. "But sometimes that is going to happen. You just have to find ways to win. We didn't." Following a series of lead changes, Maryland went ahead for good, 66-65, on another 3-pointer by Gilchrist with 7:35 left.
Jamar Smith scored 23 points for the Terrapins, who shot 68 percent (21-of-31) in the second half and 56 percent (31-of-55) overall.
N.C. State shot 52 percent (27-of-52) in the shootout but did not catch Maryland down the stretch. Nik Caner-Medley hit two free throws - his first points of the game - to give the Terrapins an 83-79 lead. The Wolfpack's hopes faded when Marcus Melvin missed back-to-back 3-pointers.