Second Half Rally Sends Tech Past NC State

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With 13:33 remaining in the second half, Courtney Fells hit a jumper to put NC State up 63-45. It looked like the Hokies were going to get run off the court by the Wolfpack for the seventh straight game. However, Tech rallied in the final 13 minutes, sent the game to overtime, and then won it 91-87. The Hokies improved to 15-7 overall and 5-3 in the ACC with the win. NC State dropped to 12-9 overall and 2-6 in conference play.

A.D. Vassallo paced the Hokies with 24 points. Known as an outside shooter, Vassallo did not hit a single three-pointer. Instead, he went 10-of-17 from the field and hit four critical free throws down the stretch in overtime to lead his team to victory. Vassallo also added seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in 43 minutes.

Jeff Allen had 21 points and eight rebounds for Tech, to go along with two blocks and three steals. He scored nine of the first 12 points for the Hokies before spending the rest of the first half on the bench in foul trouble.

Malcolm Delaney only went 3-of-11 from the field, but he was a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line and finished with 18 points. He also dished out four assistss.

Dorenzo Hudson started the game, and though he only played 15 minutes, he finished with eight points. Terrell Bell came off the bench to play 25 minutes. Bell only had four points, but he had six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. He also played terrific defense on Courtney Fells in the second half and overtime.

J.T. Thompson did not start this game, but he came off the bench to score 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. It took a complete team effort to get the Hokies back in this game, and Thompson played a critical role.

The game started off well for the Hokies. With Tech up 6-2, Dorenzo Hudson came from the backside to block Brandon Costner, and he pushed the ball up the court to A.D. Vassallo, who found Cheick Diakite underneath for an easy fast break dunk. Tech was up 8-2, and things were looking good early.

Things didn’t stay good. NC State put a big 30-8 run on Virginia Tech, and Dennis Horner’s dunk on a fast break put the Wolfpack up 32-16 with 9:12 remaining in the half.

Tech was able to cut the lead to 36-33 at one point, but the Wolfpack went on another run before halftime. Malcolm Delaney was thrown to the ground by Brandon Costner underneath the basket, but the foul was called on Delaney, and that sent Seth Greenberg over the edge. The officials whistled Greenberg for a technical foul, and as a result NC State hit four straight free throws to take a 45-35 lead with just 1:22 left in the first half.

The Wolfpack went on to extend their lead to 49-35 at halftime. Facing a 14-point halftime deficit against a team you’ve lost to six straight times doesn’t exactly build confidence, but the Hokies came back firing down the stretch in the second half.

After the jumper by Fells put NC State up 63-45 with 13:33 remaining, Tech went on a 14-3 run that was capped by a Dorenzo Hudson layup with 8:57 left in the game. At that point the Wolfpack still led 66-59, but the Hokies were back in it despite trailing by as many as 18 points.

Despite the furious rally, NC State still led 74-66 following a Ben McCauley layup with 2:11 remaining in the game. However, Tech put a quick 6-0 run on the Wolfpack, and after four straight free throws by Malcolm Delaney, NC State held a slim 74-72 lead with 1:07 left in the game.

NC State went back up by four with 44 seconds left, and on Tech’s ensuing possession A.D. Vassallo drove the lane and put up a shot, which missed. Jeff Allen grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back for two points, and he was fouled. Allen missed the free throw, and NC State had the ball with 31 seconds remaining, leading 76-74.

Dennis Horner, an 86% free throw shooter coming into the game, went to the line for two free throw attempts. Horner missed both, which made up for Ben McCauley’s amazing game from the charity stripe. McCauley was 13-of-15 against Tech on Sunday, despite shooting just 65% for the season.

J.T Thompson rebounded Horner’s miss, and A.D. Vassallo nailed a baseline jumper with just under 18 seconds remaining to tie the game at 76. NC State’s final shot missed, and the game went to overtime.

Tech took a quick 78-76 lead on a basket by Vassallo, and then Terrell Bell made arguably the biggest play of the game. Courtney Fells was open from the top of the key for a three-pointer, but Bell came seemingly out of nowhere to block the shot. Bell scooped up the ball near half court and took it in for a layup, putting the Hokies up 80-76 with 4:21 left in overtime.

Malcolm Delaney followed that up with another huge play later on overtime. With Tech clinging to an 85-82 lead and the shot clock winding down, Delaney nailed a huge jumper from the left wing to put the Hokies up by five with just 26 seconds remaining. A.D. Vassallo was then able to close out the game with four straight free throws, and Tech went on to win 91-87.

The Hokies return to action on Wednesday night when they host Georgia Tech. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.

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