Wolfpack falls 71-58 to Virginia
BY TIM PEELERRALEIGH,
Center was turned into Reynolds’ Coliseum.
Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, the game during that stretch belonged to
Virginia senior J.R. Reynolds, who scored 24 of his game-high 29 points in the second half and hit clutch baskets to thwart the Wolfpack’s comeback attempt in the 71-58 home loss. Sophomore Sean Singletary added another 27 points, giving the Cavalier starting backcourt a total of 56 points in the game."Their guards were just too much for us," said Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe afterwards.
The Cavaliers (12-6 overall, 4-2 ACC) led by seven at intermission and stretched that lead to 12 points early in the second half. However, the Wolfpack scored 11 consecutive points to get within one point, 42-41 on Gavin Grant’s turnaround jumper in the lane with 11:44 remaining.The Pack (11-8, 1-5) had the opportunity to take the lead, but senior Bryan Nieman missed a pair of free throws with 11:18 remaining, as NC State went through a rough stretch at the line, making only one of six free throws over the next three minutes.
That’s about the time that Reynolds, who made only two of six shots in the first half, got hot, scoring 21 of
Virginia’s next 23 points and assisting on the other basket. He made several fallaway 3-pointers with Wolfpack defenders covering him and created a handful of open shots for himself.The Wolfpack continued to chip away at the lead in the final minutes of the game, getting within five on a three-point play by Grant with 4:14 to play.
However, Reynolds answered with 3-pointers on the Cavaliers’ next two possessions and was fouled on a jump shot with 1:32 remaining. He made both free throws to stretch the Cavs’ lead by to nine points. The Cavaliers sealed the victory by hitting seven of eight free throws in the final minute of the game.The Wolfpack was led by redshirt freshman Brandon Costner’s 14 points, and 11 each from sophomores Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells. However, for the second consecutive game, the Wolfpack struggled from the field. McCauley and Costner made only seven of 26 field goal attempts and, as a team, the Wolfpack made a season-low 31.7 percent of its shots.
“You can’t win games when you miss shots and unfortunately some of our shots weren’t falling and they were making some great shots,” McCauley said. “Reynolds and Singletary took over the game and made some great shots.”Both teams had difficulty finding the basket in the first half However, the Cavaliers managed to hit two more field goals than the Wolfpack, managing to build as much as a nine-point lead. The Wolfpack made only eight of 31 attempts (25.8 percent), while the Cavaliers made 10 of 35 (28.6 percent) in the first 20 minutes of action.
“The difference in the game was that they made some big shots when they needed them and we didn’t,” Lowe said.The Wolfpack got good news before the game started, when senior Engin Atsur, who has missed most of the last two months with an injured hamstring, was announced in the starting line-up. He played 17 minutes of the first half, hitting a 3-pointer and dishing out two assists.
But with Atsur's return, Grant was out of the starting lineup for the first time all season. After the game, Lowe said the reason Grant did not start was because he had missed a Wednesday morning tutoring session and had not been playing defense up to the coach's expectations.
“I told Gavin that I didn’t think he was play defense the way I think he is capable of playing,” Lowe said. “That’s what we are trying to establish. We want to have guys out there on defense who are playing hard. I didn’t feel like he was playing up to his potential.
“He came in tonight and played up to his potential.”
The Wolfpack has a full week before its next game, when it travels to
You may contact Tim Peeler at email@example.com.