GREENSBORO, N.C. – Erick Green scored 15 points in what turned out to be his final game, as Virginia Tech fell 80-63 to NC State in an ACC Tournament first-round game played at the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday afternoon.
With the loss, the Hokies finished the season with a 13-19 overall mark, while NC State moved to 23-9 on the season and advanced to the semifinals to play Virginia on Friday afternoon.
“The entire coaching staff and the entire team worked too hard to go out like this,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “But we just didn’t play well, and NC State played very well.”
The Hokies led 25-24 on a Jarell Eddie basket with 7:17 left in the first half, but they hit just three field goals the rest of the half and saw NC State take a 38-32 lead at halftime. Green scored nine points in the first half – all on 3-pointers – but he went scoreless for nearly a 15-minute stretch, which was one reason why the Wolfpack grabbed the lead.
In the second half, Tech kept pace with the Wolfpack for the first five minutes and only trailed 48-42 after an Eddie basket with 14:54 remaining in the game. But the Wolfpack went on a 11-0 run and never looked back.
“I thought we came out ready to play,” Johnson said. “We were in position in the first half – six-point game at halftime. But weren’t able to get much going in the second half.
“They’re a high-octane team on offense and part of it, No. 1, is getting out in transition. We did not want to turn the ball over. We thought if we could make them play against our set defense all night that we would be fine. But those turnovers led to transition baskets.”
The Hokies only turned the ball over nine times, but NC State scored 15 points off of Tech’s turnovers. That primarily led to the Wolfpack shooting nearly 53 percent from the floor.
Richard Howell dominated things inside the Wolfpack with 22 points and 12 rebounds – part of a 15-rebound bulge held by the Wolfpack. C.J. Leslie added 15 points, while Scott Wood finished with 13.
Eddie paced the Hokies with 21 points – his best game since scoring 21 against BC on Jan. 9. He made 9 of 14 from the floor, and he also had three assists.
Green, who came into the game as the nation’s leading scorer at more than 25 points per game, struggled from the floor, hitting just 5 of 19, including 3 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc. As a team, Tech made just 41.7 percent from the floor.
Green, who broke Bimbo Coles’ single-season scoring record of 785 points with his 35-point outburst in the regular-season finale at Wake Forest, finished with 801 points this season. His average of 25.0 points per game ranks third on the single-season list behind Coles (26.6 ppg in 1988-89) and Bob Ayersman (26.5 in 1958-59).
Green also finished tied for fourth on the school’s all-time list for field goals made in a season with 261. Allan Bristow also hit 261 during the 1972-73 season.
Green leaves as the school’s 10th leading scorer, having scored 1,742 points in his career.
“I’m going to miss everyone,” Green said. “I’m going to miss Coach Johnson. I’m going to miss this team. I’m going to miss Hokie Nation. Just walking off the court, it brought tears to my eyes knowing that it was coming to an end. I was always told that four years would fly by, and I didn’t believe it, but it really did fly by.
“It hurts to walk off with a loss. I’m a winner, and I’ve always been a winner. I was looking forward to holding the trophy up as the ACC champion, but I’m glad I got to hug my teammates at the end and walk off with Coach. It just sucks because I didn’t want my college career to end like this.”
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