When NC State (21-12) finally got some breaks it had been eagerly anticipating all season to knock off No. 11 Syracuse (27-5), it wasn't going to apologize.

Particularly not if that good fortune helps get the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament.

After NC State emerged on the right side of a 66-63 win -- in spite of letting Syracuse attempt six straight shots in the final 20 seconds of the ACC Tournament quarterfinals and get a few fortunate bounces -- there was relief. But there was also joy, particularly with the memories of close games past.

A buzzer-beater in overtime by UNC's Marcus Paige. A lay-up by Syracuse's C.J. Fair with 6.7 seconds to go. And those were just the one-point defeats in the closing seconds.

Those were crushing defeats for the Wolfpack, and not just because of what they meant in the moment. Those were potential wins that could have put NC State in the NCAA Tournament conversation. Instead, they were oh-so-close missed opportunities.

"We've learned, we've grown up, we've gotten better," NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said. "We had some games where we didn't finish and they hurt, they hurt bad.

That's why I'm so proud of our guys, because you bounce back from adversity. We had some. We pour a lot into this. It's a lot of sacrifice and a lot of effort. When you come out of there short, it just cuts you. But our guys have been able to kind of get themselves back together and we talk about finishing, let's finish the game."