The Wolfpack played with Virgina for the first eight minutes of the game before an avalanche of turnovers buried the Pack into a 20-point halftime deficit against the ACC's worst team. The team rallied in the second half, cutting the lead to as few as 12 points before falling to the Cavaliers by a 78-60 score on Sunday night in Charlottesville.
The Pack has now lost five straight games, spiraling down from a 4-4 start to the ACC season to fall to 4-9 in the league. State's hopes of finishing at .500 in the ACC this season are now an impossibility, and the Pack will need to right the ship quickly to best last years 4-12 regular-season conference record. Any hopes of making the NCAA Tournament now rest on winning four games in four days during the ACC Tournament in Charlotte next month.
Sean Singletary led all scorers with 21 points and six assists for the Cavaliers (13-12, 3-9 ACC) and was defensive disruptor all night for the Pack (15-12, 4-9) offense, snatching seven steals. The Pack had just two players score in double figures, neither of them starters. Brandon Costner led the Pack with 14 points while Trevor Ferguson added 11 points all in the second half. Ben McCauley pulled down 11 rebounds to go along with nine points.
The Pack jumped out to a quick lead thanks to hot 3-point shooting, hitting three quick 3s to go ahead by a 9-8 score. The shooting would cool off quickly though, as the Pack shot just 27 percent from the field overall for the half while the Cavaliers shot over 50 percent. J.J. Hickson, the Pack's leading scorer, didn't score in the half and was 0-for-5 from the field.
The Cavaliers held a 13-11 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half, and would take control from that point with a 19-4 run that took the lead to double digits. The run was fueled by a barrage of Wolfpack miscues, as the Pack took just four shots in over four minutes because of turnovers. Singletary was heavily involved in creating some of those turnovers, nabbing six steals in the half. By halftime, the Pack had committed 17 turnovers en route to falling behind by a 38-18 score.
The situation didn't get much better in the second half, with the Cavaliers extending the lead out to 27 points in the opening minutes before the Pack finally started to rally. State managed to put together its first run of any kind towards the middle part of the half, pulling the game withing 20 points with a 9-1 streak.
The steak came without the usual suspects on the court, as Lowe went to the bench to find some momentum. State kept chipping away at the advantage with a line-up that included Costner, McCauley and Ferguson while starters Hickson and Grant sat on the bench. The unorthodox lineup got as close as 13 points before the Cavaliers halted the Pack momentum with a few big 3-point baskets.
State will have two home games in a row to try to reverse the five-game slid. The Pack will face Florida State on Wednesday night at the RBC Center.