Virginia Tech overcame a 16-point first half deficit to defeat NC State 73-68 in overtime in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies broke a 2-game losing streak and improved to 9-5 overall, with a 1-0 record in ACC play. The Wolfpack dropped to 10-4 overall and 0-1 in league play.
Things didn’t go right early on for Virginia Tech. They played good defense throughout, but they couldn’t find a way to score. They found themselves trailing 32-16 with 2:34 remaining in the first half, and it appeared they were on their way to their third consecutive blowout loss.
Though the Hokies cut the lead to 34-24 at halftime, they still trailed by 14 with 15:52 left in the game when a Caleb Martin three-pointer made the score 43-29. However, they steadily crawled back into the game. Trailing 48-38 with 10:31 left, Tech went on a quick 7-0 run that was sparked by three-pointers from Kerry Blackshear and Jalen Hudson. Hudson was fouled on his attempt and converted the free throw for a four-point play to make the score 48-45.
The Hokies eventually claimed their first lead of the game with 4:20 remaining on a breakaway dunk by Seth Allen. NC State battled back and took a three-point lead of their own following a free throw by BeeJay Anya to make the score 61-58 with just 33 seconds remaining. However, Allen came up with another big play, knocking down a three-pointer to tie the game at 61.
The Wolfpack had the ball for the last shot, but a layup attempt by the leading scorer in the ACC, point guard Cat Barber, was blocked by several Hokies. The block was credited to Shane Henry, who came away with the rebound. The game went to overtime.
Jalen Hudson, who finished with 23 points, scored the first bucket of overtime, but the Hokies had to overcome adversity again. NC State led by two with 2:19 remaining, and after the Hokies battled back to take a one-point lead, the Wolfpack tied the game on a Maverick Rowan free throw. That’s when Tech took over.
With the shot clock winding down, Kerry Blackshear took the ball at the top of the key and blew by the NC State defense, finishing with a layup that put the Hokies up 69-67 with 1:23 left in the game. They would never relinquish the lead. Tech played great defense down the stretch, and Justin Bibbs and Zach LeDay made all four of their free throw attempts to ice the game.
Hudson and Allen scored 23 points each for the Hokies. Both hit numerous tough shots, particularly Hudson.
“You’ve got to give those guys credit,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried said after the game. “I thought those guys made a lot of tough shots.
Kerry Blackshear made numerous big plays in overtime and finished with nine points and eight rebounds, including five offensive rebounds. Zach LeDay finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, and also pulled down five offensive boards. LeDay blocked three shots.
The Hokies have not played good defense in recent games, but they held NC State to 32.3% from the field. Cat Barber scored 21 points, but he was just 7-of-21 shooting. The Wolfpack were just 5-of-23 (21.7%) from three-point range. Virginia Tech committed just four turnovers in 45 minutes of basketball, which was critical.
“The first half we had probably the same looks as we had in the second half,” Jalen Hudson said. “We just couldn’t finish them like we wanted to. In the second half we were able to convert.”
Virginia Tech returns to action on Monday night when they host #5 UVA. Tipoff is scheduled for 9pm, and the game can be seen on ESPN2.