Wolfpack rises to occasion against Hokies
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried swore he knew nothing about the warm-up shirts emblazoned with the phrase “rise to the occasion” that the Wolfpack wore for the first time on Thursday.
Led by the defense and playmaking of point guard Lorenzo Brown, the Wolfpack certainly lived up to the motto as it tries to bury the disappointment of a fifth-place finish in the ACC regular season.
Brown was the point man in holding the nation’s leading scorer Erick Green to 15 points and also dished 12 assists in sparking the Wolfpack to an 80-63 victory over Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
It was a much more decisive outcome than State’s overtime win over the Hokies on Feb. 16 in which Green scored 29 points.
“Defensively, I thought we did a good job today,” Gottfried said. “We did a good job on Erick Green and I thought Lorenzo was terrific with his one-on-one defense on Green. We did a much better job than the other time we played them, Lorenzo made up his mind he was going to do a better job. I thought he did.”
The Wolfpack (23-9), which got 22 points and 12 rebounds from Richard Howell and had three other scorers in double figures, will play No. 4 seed Virginia today at approximately 2:20.
C.J. Leslie added 15 points, while Scott Wood and T.J. Warren each had 13. Jarell Eddie led Tech (13-19) as Green, who is averaging 25.4 points per game, hit just 5 of 19 shots and finished with his lowest point total against an ACC school this year.
“I felt this would be our toughest game,” Brown said. “They sent it to overtime at our place and we did pretty well at home and just trying to stop Erick was going to be the main thing. We did a good job at that.”
Green made two 3-pointers early, another 3 near the end of the first half and just two buckets in the second half. He also committed four turnovers.
“They had everybody in the gaps,” Green said. “Even in transition, I was seeing two or three players back there waiting for me, I knew going in that they were going to try to key on me. I should have tried to make plays but the ball wasn’t falling for me and it happens, nights like that.”
Tech never got closer than five at 43-38 with 16:47 to go in the game.
State took total control, going on a 17-4 run to go up 59-42 with 12 minutes to play as Tech failed to score on six of eight possessions.
In the second half, Tech shot just 35 percent in the second half and made just 1 of 9 attempts from 3-point range.
“We got in our stance and played defense,” Howell said. “That is what its all about. We know we can score. It’s all about whether we can get stops.”