Virginia Tech has had a lot of success against teams from the state of North Carolina this year, with one major exception. Hot-shooting NC State downed Virginia Tech 81-56 in Raleigh on Sunday afternoon, completing the season sweep of the Hokies. Tech drops to 18-8 overall and 8-4 in the ACC, while the Wolfpack improves to 14-11 overall and 4-8 in conference play.
The story of this game was NC State’s shooting. The Wolfpack shot 32-of-48 from the field for 66.7%. They were even hotter from the outside, knocking down 11 of their 15 three-point attempts for 73.3%. All five NC State starters scored in double figures, with point guard Engin Atsur leading the way with 20 points.
Virginia Tech was 25-of-52 from the field for 48.1%, a solid percentage, but they couldn’t keep up with NC State, especially from the outside. The Hokies hit just two three-pointers to NC State’s 11, and that difference helped the Wolfpack break away to the big win.
Jamon Gordon was the only Tech player to score in double figures. The senior guard scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He also led the Hokies in rebounding with five, and in assists with seven. To cap off a solid all-around day, he also had two steals.
The game was tight early, with NC State holding a narrow 10-9 lead at the 16:19 mark of the first half. A 12-2 Wolfpack run quickly gave them the advantage and a 22-11 lead with 12:59 remaining in the half.
The Hokies didn’t quit, and for awhile they were able to hang with NC State, despite the Wolfpack’s hot shooting. A three-pointer by A.D. Vassallo with 5:54 left in the first half cut the lead to 32-29, and at that point it appeared that this one could be another great ACC conference game. However NC State went on a quick 7-0 run over the next 1:08 to take a 39-29 lead.
The final play of the first half was a preview of things to come in the second half. Brandon Costner missed a jumper, and two Tech players collided going for the rebound. The remainder of Tech’s team sprinted up the court, expecting to get the final shot of the half, but the ball kicked free to Engin Atsur near half court, who found a slashing Gavin Grant for an easy dunk that gave State a 45-33 halftime lead.
NC State opened the second half on a 13-2 run that gave them an insurmountable 58-35 lead at the 16:01 mark. The run was capped by another dunk by Gavin Grant.
Seemingly nothing could stop the ball finding the basket for NC State. On three occasions in the second half, they hit long field goals against very good defense with one second on the shot clock. The first, a 24-foot three-pointer by power forward Brandon Costner, came with 13:49 to play and it put the Wolfpack up 64-37.
With 11 minutes to go in the game, Virginia Tech was shooting 60% from the field, had committed just eight turnovers, yet trailed the Wolfpack 71-41.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they host Boston College. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by ESPN.