Tech falls on the road to hot-shooting Wolfpack
By Jimmy Robertson
February 18, 2007

Box Score N.C. State 81, Virginia Tech 56
RALEIGH, N.C. - N.C. State blistered the nets for the entire game, and for the second time in three weeks, the Hokies couldn't overcome the Wolfpack's hot shooting, suffering their worst loss of the season, 81-56, in an ACC game played Sunday afternoon in front of 19,700 patrons at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

With the loss, the Hokies fell to 18-8 overall, 8-4 in the ACC, and saw their modest two-game winning streak come to an end. N.C. State - losers of three straight coming into the game - improved to 14-11 overall, 4-8 in the league.

The Wolfpack knocked off the Hokies 70-59 in Blacksburg on Jan. 31st and shot 53 percent from the floor. This time around, N.C. State shot a blistering 66.7 percent from the floor and 73.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, hitting 11 3-pointers on 15 attempts. The percentage marked the best against the Hokies this season and Tech allowed only Boston College to hit more 3-pointers (12).

"We always struggle against them for some reason," said Tech's Jamon Gordon, who was the only Hokie in double figures with 13 points. "They move and cut. They get the ball to the high post and their big men can pass. They're just a tough match-up for us. But we still should have played better than we did."

In the first half, the Wolfpack made 10 of their first 11 shots and 12 of their first 14, bolting out to an 11-point advantage. Tech sliced into the lead, cutting it to 32-29 on a 3-pointer by A.D. Vassallo with 5:52 left in the half. But N.C. State scored the next seven points and ultimately went into the locker room up by 12, 45-33, at halftime.

In the second half, N.C. State opened with a 3-pointer by Engin Atsur. Tech's Coleman Collins then dunked with 19:14 left to cut the lead to 48-35. After that, though, the Wolfpack rattled off eight straight points and never looked back. They led by as many as 30 in the second half.

"I'm not OK with the loss, but I also understand the big picture," Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "We've played six of our past nine games on the road. I also know we've got three home games left and I know this is important to our kids. They've put too much into this season. They hurt, but we'll get through this. That's what leadership is all about. It's not about just kicking their [tails] just because they didn't play well and N.C. State made shots.

"This is important to our guys. I'm proud of our guys. We're 8-4. We've played back-to-back road games down here and we didn't play well. And they did play well. We wanted to play well, but we just didn't. This doesn't just happen in our league."

N.C. State placed five guys in double figures. Atsur led the Wolfpack with 20 points, hitting 8-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the 3-point arc. Ben McCauley added 16 points; Gavin Grant 15; Courtney Fells 14; and Brandon Costner tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Gordon made 6-of-9 from the floor to pace the Hokies. He also dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds. Zabian Dowdell, Tech's leading scorer at 18.2 points per game coming into this one, finished with just nine, though he made 4-of-5 from the floor. The game marked just the third time this season that Dowdell has not scored in double figures for the Hokies.

Tech returns home for three of its final four games, starting Wednesday night when Boston College comes to town. The game is slated to tip off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN. BC downed the Hokies 80-59 on Feb. 3rd.