Pack falls to Hokies in OT, 91-87

NC State blew an 18-point second-half lead on the road as Virginia Tech rallied in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime then put away the Wolfpack in the final five minutes, 91-87.

NC State had a chance to put the game away at the free-throw line, clinging to a two-point lead with 30 seconds left in regulation.

But Dennis Horner, an 86 percent free-throw shooter on the season, missed a pair to keep the door open for Virginia Tech. A.D. Vassallo took advantage, draining a baseline jumper with 17 seconds left to force overtime. The Hokies took over from there, going on to win 91-87 on Sunday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.

The Pack blew an 18-point second-half lead in falling to the Hokies, the second time in the last two weeks they've fallen apart after taking control for the first 20 minutes. Last time, though, they managed to squeak out a win in overtime against Miami at home. On the road this time, they were unable to recapture the overtime magic as the Hokies dominated the final minutes. It's the first overtime loss for Sidney Lowe, who was previously 5-0 in overtime games with the Pack.

Ben McCauley led the Pack offensively, scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds while also going 13-for-15 from the free-throw line in the loss. Courtney Fells added 17 points and Brandon Costner scored 13 points before fouling out late in the second half, while Tracy Smith also scored 13 for the Pack.

Virginia Tech jumped on top of the Pack from opening tip, as Jeff Allen scored the first five points for the Hokies to help put the Hokies up 8-2. But Allen picked up two fouls early in the game and had to watch much of the first half from the bench. The Pack took advantage on the boards and in the paint offensively, starting off the game by going 10-for-14 from the floor as they came back from an early deficit to take a 16-point lead midway through the first half.

The Hokies rallied though, cutting the deficit to 36-33 as Malcom Delany scored seven straight points all from the free throw line. Tech's leading scorer didn't make a field goal in the first half, but was perfect at the line in scoring seven points. Virginia Tech shot just 38 percent in the half and went a paltry 1-for-7 from behind the arc.

The Pack had the last rally of the half, aided by a technical foul on Hokie head coach Seth Greenberg who picked up the technical after disputing a foul call underneath the basket on his team. The foul and the technical led to a four-point possession for the Pack, helping them end the half on a 9-0 run to take a 49-35 lead into the locker room.

At the start of the second half the Pack continued putting pressure on the Hokies, extending their lead to as many as 18 points before Virginia Tech made its run. The home team was helped out by an intentional foul call on Courtney Fells, who tried to block a break-away lay-up attempt but caught the head of the Virginia Tech player with his elbow as well. That led to a five-point possession for the Hokies, sparking a 14-3 run that cut the lead to just seven points with seven minutes remaining.

Virginia Tech continued to chip away at the Pack's lead, getting it down to two points in the final minute. Dennis Horner had a chance to put the game away on the line but missed two free throws to keep the lead at two, and Vassallo hit a jumper on the baseline to tie the game at 76 with 17 seconds left. The Pack went to McCauley on its last possession of regulation, but the center lost the ball underneath the basket to send the game to overtime.


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