BLACKSBURG – N.C. State used big runs in both the first and second halves, and that enabled the Wolfpack to pull away from Virginia Tech 70-58 in the ACC regular-season finale held Sunday night at Cassell Coliseum.
The loss marked the fourth straight for the Hokies, who fell to 15-16 on the season, 4-12 in the ACC. Tech will be the No. 10 seed in the ACC Tournament, which starts on Thursday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Hokies will play No. 7 seed Clemson at 7 p.m. The two teams split during the regular season, each winning on its home court.
“It’s just disappointing,” Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said following the N.C. State game. “I don’t know if our emotional gas tank was on empty after three straight weeks of playing every single possession to the last play of the game. I hope that’s what it was. I don’t know if we were due one of these, but I know we’ve got a small margin of error. We just didn’t play well.”
Scott Wood scored 19 points and C.J. Leslie added 18 to lead the Wolfpack (20-11, 9-7 ACC), which snapped a four-game losing streak to the Hokies and clinched the No. 5 seed in the ACC Tournament. The Wolfpack will play No. 12 seed Boston College at 2:30 p.m.
N.C. State trailed early, but used a 16-2 run midway through the first half to take the lead for good, with Wood and Leslie scoring six each in that run.
In the second half, the Hokies cut the Wolfpack lead to 51-47 on an Erick Green jumper with 10:30 remaining, but N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried switched his defense from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone. The Wolfpack then answered with an 11-0 run and never looked back.
Wood hit 5 of 11 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and made all six of his free-throw attempts. Leslie hit 7 of 9 from the floor, as the Wolfpack shot 51.1 percent (23 of 45). He also grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the Wolfpack to a 40-25 advantage on the glass.
“It’s been very difficult. The majority of the time, we’re right there, and that hurts even more. But it’s a learning lesson. Hopefully, we’ll go into the ACC Tournament with a fresh start. We’ll take Clemson first, and that’s a team we can get if we come to play. So we’ll take on Clemson on Thursday and move from there.”
Cadarian Raines scored 15 points for the Hokies, who shot just 36.7 percent (22 of 60). Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points and eight rebounds.
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