NC State Defeats Virginia Tech, 90-86, In Overtime
Feb. 16, 2013
RALEIGH -- Now the trend is beginning to turn. Now NC State is beginning to win the close ones. And now the season is looking more promising again.
On a snowy afternoon, the Wolfpack was able to reach down and come up with a 90-86 ACC overtime victory against a gritty Virginia Tech team that bore no resemblance to an 11-14 opponent.
After edging Clemson on a buzzer beater by Scott Wood last week, Wood (22 points) again hit big shots to lead a balanced Pack attack, and gutsy Lorenzo Brown made two key steals and four clutch free throws in the last minute of the extra period.
Bottom line, State also wrecked Tech at the foul line, outscoring the Hokies 31-5.
Through it all, the suspense, the bumping and grinding, the Pack (18-7, 7-5 ACC) exhibited a resilient spirit. Without it the close game might have slipped away.
Leading 78-75 with 8.1 seconds left, Tech tied the score when Eddie Jarell hit a follow shot after Tech star Erick Green (29 points) purposely missed a second free throw attempt to force the OT.
"Our guys dropped their heads in the huddle for 10-15 seconds,'' Coach Mark Gottfried said. "But they regained their focus, got back into it mentally and showed a lot of toughness (in the extra period)."
In the overtime Jarell pushed Tech ahead 84-83 with two triples. But then Brown turned into a basketball bandit and went to work again in the final 51.8 seconds. He made a steal and fed Tyler Lewis, who drew a foul and converted two free throws.
Then, after swishing four shots from the line himself to push State ahead 89-86, Brown stole the ball from Green (29 points) to help seal the victory.
Yes, Brown said his ankle was hurting, but he showed true grit by - much of the day - guarding the irrepressible Green, the nation's leading scorer.
"Lorenzo is not 100 percent,'' Gottfried said. "He was holding his ankle in time outs. He's showing an unbelievable amount of character."
For Tech, Green was on full go all day despite State's efforts to stop him. And Jarrell (17 points) hit some 3-point daggers.
But the collective strength of the Pack ultimately prevailed. Check the Box score.
Then again there was the pesky Lewis, who added 13, including nine in a seven-minute first half stretch. Nothing could rattle the cool freshman, not even when big Hokie Cadarian Raines said a few words to him at the foul line.
Lewis smiled and sank both shots.
"He helps us get rhythm and in the flow,'' Gottfried said. "He deserves to play. He was terrific in the first half."
State trailed 36-34 at intermission, causing restlessness among the 18,257 Wolfpack faithful. Then things got more tense, more suspenseful, when the Hokies took a 60-53 lead with 7:40 left in the game.
But then the Pack did some hokie-pokey work of its own, going on a 14-0 run fueled by the sharp shooting Wood and Warren.
During that scintillating stretch, Wood made a highlight-film 4-point play by swishing a triple, getting fouled and converting.
"It was a big moment,'' said Wood, who came on the court about an hour and half early to shoot, then translated his touch in practice to the game.
"He's a gamer," Tech coach James Johnson said of Wood, who worked hard without the ball, peeling off screens and flashing his quick release.
Moments after making his four-pointer he picked off a Tech pass and fed Leslie for a layup. Intermingled with all that was Warren, who added six points and showed lots of hustle after failing to score last week at Clemson.
The Pack couldn't hold that lead or clinch the win in regulation, but it showed steely resolve and made the plays to get the job done in overtime.
So now State has a little more momentum, perhaps a little more confidence, and perhaps the formula for winning the close ones.