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February 16, 2013
NC State senior small forward Scott Wood refused to let his team lose Saturday.
Wood drained six three-pointers en route to 22 points to help the Wolfpack hold off upset-minded Virginia Tech 90-86 in overtime.
Virginia Tech shockingly forced overtime after trailing 77-72 with 15 seconds left. Junior point guard Lorenzo Brown and Wood both split a pair of free throws to leave the door open for VT. Hokies junior small forward Jarell Eddie responded with a three-pointer to cut it to three with eight seconds left.
NC State fouled Erick Green with five seconds left, and he made the first free throw, but missed the second on purpose. The bounce off the rim went perfectly to a waiting Eddie, who made the layup to tie the game 78-78 with two seconds left. Last second finishes have started to become the norm for NC State in ACC action, but the Wolfpack had five extra minutes to avoid another "What if?" loss.
NC State shook off the disappointment in overtime thanks in part to seven free throws over the final 51 seconds to pull out the victory. Wood was one of six players in double figures for the Wolfpack.
"There are little things we have to do to get better, but at the end of the day, it counts as a win," Wood said. "We've been on the unfortunate end of a lot of them. It's nice to get a couple of close ones here and we just have to keep this thing rolling."
The Wolfpack improved to 18-7 overall and 7-5 in the ACC, while the Hokies fell to 11-14 and 2-10 in the league. NC State hosts Florida State on Tuesday.
"Even on the foul shot there at the end of regulation, we dropped our head in the timeout for 10-15 seconds, and we were stunned a little bit because we had the game in hand," NCSU coach Mark Gottfried said. "Our guys were able to regroup, get mentally focused back in and I thought in the overtime, played really well. We certainly could have went the other way."
Virginia Tech kept the game close throughout the first half, never trailing by more than five points. Even after falling behind by five, the Hokies went on a 10-3 spurt to take a 20-18 lead with 9:08 left before halftime.
Green paced the Hokies with 12 first-half points to give his team a 36-34 lead at halftime. Green was just warming up for the final 25 minutes of action.
Virginia Tech built a 43-36 lead 2:31 into the second half, but NC State was quick to respond. Wood hit a pair of three-pointers and junior forward C.J. Leslie added seven points and the Wolfpack battled back to take a 53-51 lead with 9:55 remaining in the game.
Green with some help from freshman forward Marshall Wood built another seven-point lead, 60-53, with 7:49 left in the game, and the upset bid became extremely clear to the Wolfpack players.
NC State responded with a 14-0 run — highlighted by Wood's 4-point play — to seize control of the game again 67-60 with 3:45 left.
"We guarded them better and got defensive rebounds," Gottfried said.
Green tallied 16 of his game-high 29 points in the second half and overtime to finish 3.8 points over his season average, which leads the nation. He also added eight assists and was the only Hokies' player to reach the free-throw line, going 5 of 7.
"I thought we could score on them inside, whether with the post feed or whether it be on the dribble drive, but we just didn't have enough guys getting to the basket, making plays," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said.
Gottfried said Brown wasn't 100 percent healthy but credited Green for making numerous tough shots.
"I thought he tried to make it as tough on Erick as he could to score," Gottfried said.
NC State went 31 of 43 at the free-throw line, with five players getting at least six attempts. Leslie complemented Wood's three-point stroke with 16 points and nine rebounds, while senior center Richard Howell had 10 points and team-high 16 boards.
"Every shot I take is high percentage to me," Leslie said. "I'm very capable. We just had to take it and go with it [in overtime]. We had to find a way to get it done, and that is what we did."
Brown finished with 15 points and seven assists in 42 minutes, but also had six of the Wolfpack's 12 turnovers. Freshmen Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren added 13 points and 12 respectively. Lewis played 21 minutes off the bench and played with Brown more comfortably.
"Tyler is playing well, really well," said Gottfried on his decision to play Lewis and Brown together for the majority of the final 25 minutes of the game. "Tyler is making foul shots and he's not turning the ball over. Tyler deserves to play."
The perimeter-based Hokies went 11 of 23 from beyond the three-point arc to remain in the game. Gottfried added that VT's three-point shooting was a big reason why he fouled Green at the end of the game.
Eddie's hot shooting at the end helped him finish with 17 points, and he went 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Marshall Wood had his breakout game of the season, setting career-highs with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Wood went 4 of 9 from three-point land, which also is a new career-high in both categories.
"Outstanding for Wood," Johnson said. "For a freshman to play in a hostile environment against a very good team, with NBA prospects on the frontline [was impressive]. To come out with a double-double after being out six weeks [with an injury], and finally getting his legs back, he's finally getting his confidence."