CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Virginia Tech led for the first 28 minutes of the game and had a chance to win in the final seconds, but the Hokies ran out of gas, stumbling to North Carolina 72-60 in overtime at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday afternoon.
With the loss, Tech fell to 11-10 overall, 2-6 in ACC play, and dropped its fourth straight game. The Tar Heels, who have won five of their past six games, moved to 15-6 overall, 5-3 in the league.
Despite making just two field goals in the final 12:15 of regulation, the Hokies managed to stay in the game. Trailing 55-53, Tech got two free throws from Joey van Zegeren with 45.8 seconds remaining to tie things at 55. UNC’s Marcus Paige then turned the ball over on the Tar Heels’ next possession, giving the Hokies the ball with a chance to win the game.
Tech ran the clock down, and Erick Green tried to shoot a jumper over UNC’s Reggie Bullock with four seconds left, but Bullock got a piece of it, and the Tar Heels rebounded it with 2 seconds remaining. After two timeouts, they didn’t get a shot off, and the game went into overtime.
“I thought the game-winning attempt was a good shot,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “We had a ball-screen situation for him, and then he pulled it back. He wanted to stay away from a double-team, and he got to a spot to try and shoot over him. Again, I thought he got a good look.”
“I got the space I wanted,” Green said. “That’s my favorite move – go to the left and step back. But Reggie’s 6-6 and he got a finger on it, enough to take the air off of it, and it fell short.”
In overtime, the two team’s traded baskets to even things at 57, but the Tar Heels went on 8-1 run after. Paige hit a 3-pointer and a jumper in that run, and the Tar Heels never looked back.
UNC outscored the Hokies 17-5 in the extra frame and nailed five of their six free-throw attempts to keep Tech from making any type of run. They also hit 5 of 6 from the floor in overtime, despite shooting just 37.5 percent for the game against the Hokies, who played mostly a 2-3 zone.
“We’re into February now, and I’ve started to see this the last couple of games,” Johnson said. “We’re wearing down a little bit. The lack of bodies and lack of depth are starting to wear on us, especially against these guys. Not just the first group, but also the second group they bring in are big, physical guys, and we’re leaning on them and battling them the whole game and it’s wearing us down a little bit.”
UNC got a big game from post standout James Michael McAdoo, who scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Paige finished with 19 points and hit four 3-pointers, and Bullock managed 11.
Green led the Hokies with 16 points, but hit just 7 of 21 from the floor. He made just 4 of 14 in the second half and overtime, and he went more than 20 minutes without scoring in one stretch. That included the final 16:15 of regulation and the first 3:30 of overtime before ending the drought with a basket at the 1:30 mark that cut the lead to 65-60.
“It’s frustrating, but it happens,” Green said. “Everyone goes cold. You’ve got to just get back in the gym and watch this film and get better.
“I got off my screens, I got to the hole … I had good looks. It just didn’t fall tonight. It puzzles me that I didn’t get to the line one time tonight, but other than that … shots just didn’t fall.”
Green did not go to the free-throw line for the first time this season and for the first time since last March 1 at Clemson.
“That’s mind boggling,” Johnson said. “But he’s got to continue to attack. In transition, I thought he had some opportunities to attack, and we pulled it out. But I thought we could have attacked in transition a little more.”
Tech returns home for its next game. The Hokies serve as the hosts to Maryland next Thursday night at Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m.
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