Virginia Tech was knocked off by NC State for the third time this season on Saturday afternoon, this time falling 72-64 to the Wolfpack in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. Despite the loss, the Hokies are still 21-11 and a lock for the NCAA tournament. They’ll learn their postseason fate during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday at 6 pm. It will be televised by CBS.
Foul trouble and free throw shooting cost the Hokies a chance to win the game. Deron Washington was saddled with two fouls in the first half, and he missed a lot of the second half after picking up four fouls. At the line, Tech was just 8-of-19 for the game for 42%, and the misses inclued the front end of three straight one-and-ones late in the second half.
NC State countered by hitting 24 of their 28 free throw attempts for 86%. At one point in the second half, the Wolfpack were 22-of-24 at the line. They then missed two of their last four after the game was no longer in doubt. Gavin Grant, who led NC State with 20 points, was 11-of-11 from the line.
Other than free throw shooting, the Hokies played well, but it wasn’t enough. Tech outrebounded NC State 33-28 and didn’t allow the Wolfpack to grab a single offensive rebound. Tech also won the turnover battle, forcing 17 turnovers while committing just 10.
Zabian Dowdell led Tech in scoring with 15 points, but he was just 6-of-19 from the field. Dowdell hit just one of his first 10 shot attempts. A.D. Vassallo added 12 points and five rebounds, while Deron Washington had 11 points in 21 minutes of action. Dowdell, Vassallo and Washington all fouled out.
Jamon Gordon had another impressive night. He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals, a block and just one turnover.
The Hokies were in this game for most of the way, although they trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half. The Wolfpack went up 23-12 on a layup by Bryan Nieman with 8:39 remaining in the half, but the Hokies fought back. Tech went on a 9-2 run that was capped by a jumper by Cheick Diakite with 3:42 left in the half to make the score 25-21.
NC State went on one more run, scoring six consecutive points to take a 31-21 lead at the 1:11 mark. However, the Hokies wouldn’t go away, and they scored the final four points of the half. Zabian Dowdell’s layup with five seconds left in the half made the score 31-25 heading into the half time.
The Hokies continued to battle their way back into the game during the second half. An offensive rebound and put-back by Lewis Witcher at the 14:55 mark tied the game at 35, and things were looking good for Tech. NC State responded by nailing a three-pointer, and at the 9:56 mark found themselves holding a 46-39 lead.
As bad as the Hokies were playing offensively, things didn’t look good, but they had another run left in them. Tech responded with a 9-2 run that was capped by a three-pointer by A.D. Vassallo that tied the game at 48 with 7:10 left. However, that was the last time NC State didn’t hold the lead. Ben McCauley followed with two free throws for the Wolfpack, who led for the remainder of the game.
The Hokies made one more short run at the end of the game. Two Deron Washington free throws cut the lead to 61-56 with 1:10 remaining, and on Tech’s next possession, Washington nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to 63-59. Tech managed to cut the lead to 64-61 on a Lewis Witcher dunk with 46 seconds remaining, but the Wolfpack nailed their free throws down the stretch and held on for a 72-64 win.