Flat Hokies Fall to NC State 70-59

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#16 Virginia Tech, undefeated at home and fresh off two road wins, came out flat against NC State and dropped their first home contest of the season 70-59 on Wednesday night. The Hokies drop to 16-6 overall and 6-2 in the ACC, relinquishing their hold on the top spot in the conference standings. NC State improves to 12-8 and 2-5 in conference play.

The recently hot-shooting Hokies had an off night against the Wolfpack, who extended their defense to make Tech beat them on the inside. Tech’s inside players couldn’t respond. Coleman Collins had zero points, while Lewis Witcher and Cheick Diakite combined for just six.

Tech’s guards, normally good at driving the lane and scoring, had an off night. Jamon Gordon was battling the flu and didn’t play as well as normal, despite finishing with 12 points. Zabian Dowdell had 11 points in the fist half before injuring his elbow on the last play of the half. He played the entire second half with his elbow in a sleeve, but could manage just five free throws to finish with 16 points.

Deron Washington had the best all-around game for the Hokies, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals. However, Virginia Tech was just 21-of-60 from the field for the game for 35%. NC State was 26-of-49 for 53.1%.

Virginia Tech’s group of post players, Coleman Collins, Lewis Witcher, Cheick Diakite and Robert Krabbendam, combined for just six points and eight rebounds. NC State starting center Ben McCauley had 20 points and seven rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting. He played all 40 minutes of the game.

The Hokies came out flat from the very beginning. NC State jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and the Hokies didn’t get on the scoreboard until Zabian Dowdell hit a jumper at the 16:44 mark. The Wolfpack didn’t stop, and quickly took a 9-4 lead on a three-pointer by Engin Atsur with 14:16 remaining in the half.

NC State led by as many as 10 points in the first half, taking a 26-16 lead on a dunk by Courtney Fells with 5:22 left in the first half. The Hokies went on a quick 6-0 run that was capped by two free throws by Jamon Gordon to make the score 26-22 at the 3:01 mark, but the Wolfpack quickly went back up 30-22.

The Hokies tried to make a game of it to end the first half. Deron Washington tipped in a missed layup by Robert Krabbendam to make the score 30-24, and with four seconds left in the half, Zabian Dowdell nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to three. Dowdell was fouled and injured on the play, but converted the free throw to cut the lead to 30-28 heading into halftime.

Virginia Tech came out firing in the second half, and managed to grab the lead on a jumper by Deron Washington at the 16:42 mark to make the score 36-35. Going back to the first half, the Hokies had outscored the Wolfpack 14-5, and it looked like they might take control of the game.

Unfortunately for Tech, NC State didn’t back down. Instead they went on a 7-0 run to take a 42-36 lead with 14:43 remaining in the game. Virginia Tech didn’t score again until Markus Sailes hit a short jumper at the 12:55 mark.

The Hokies scored on three straight possessions at one point, but couldn’t get a stop defensively, as NC State scored on four of their next ffive possessions. With 10:08 left in the game, the Wolfpack led 50-42.

Virginia Tech stayed close for the rest of the game, and cut the lead to 55-53 following a Jamon Gordon layup with 4:37 left in the game. But NC State’s Brandon Coster answered with a three-pointer, and the Wolfpack went on a 7-0 run to open the lead back up to 62-53 with 2:41 remaining. The Hokies couldn’t get within seven from that point on, and NC State went on to win the game.

Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College. Tipoff is scheduled for 1pm, and the game will be televised by Raycom/Lincoln Financial Sports.

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