NC State controlled a significant portion of the game against Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon, taking a 10-point leaad into halftime. The Wolfpack maintained that margin into the final 10 minutes of the game, which is when everything went south. The Wolfpack's shooting, both from the field and from the line, helped the Hokies to make a late rally, and Tech did just enough to win in overtime, 73-68.
The cracks in NC State's game were all over the place in the second half. Cat Barber couldn't find enough room to make a significant impact scoring, and he made some uncharacteristically poor decisions. Too often, he or somebody else on the team would recklessly take the ball into the paint, playing right into Virginia Tech's hands. Caleb Martin's outside shot disappeared, and all the wrong people ended up getting to the free throw line.
If State's bigs are fouled while shooting and don't make the basket for an and-one opportunity, it's usually a win for the opponent. Never was this more apparent than in the clutch stages on Saturday, when BeeJay Anya missed free throw after free throw. Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman also missed key freebies.
The big sequence was in the final minute of regulation, when Anya got fouled with an opportunity to make it a two-possession game, but he couldn't do it. On the next Hokies possession, yet another case of awful communication led to a wide open three-point try by Seth Allen, and he did not miss.
That led to overtime, and it was just a slow burn to defeat from there. This is an inexcusable loss, though it isn't exactly surprising. NC State held a double-digit lead for most of the afternoon, but when you have a group that doesn't usually shoot well, what we saw today is capable of happening at any point in a game.
This team might end up killing me.