Cardiac Pack survives miracle play, wins in OT
N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown shook off a sore ankle, chased the nation’s leading scorer hard for 40 minutes, then had to go another five.
Virginia Tech’s Erick Green made a big play with an intentional miss at the end of regulation, but Brown and the Wolfpack regrouped just well enough to stay tied for fourth in the ACC with a 90-86 overtime victory in PNC Arena Saturday afternoon.
“They’ve had the same struggles as us — can’t finish at the end,” Brown said.
The strategy of N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried put Green in position after the Wolfpack (18-7, 7-5 ACC) missed a couple of free throws in the final 15 seconds. The Hokies (11-14, 2-10 ACC), now with eight straight losses, had possession with 8.9 seconds left and were in the bonus.
Tech head coach James Johnson had Green planning to go toward the basket, not take a 3-pointer. Gottfried had Brown foul Green to prevent a 3-pointer, and it came with five seconds left.
Green, a 25 points-per-game scorer who made all 16 free throws in a game earlier this year, rimmed in the first. He intentionally missed his second, and 6-foot-7 Jarell Eddie was practically uncontested putting it back in on the right side.
Why so open? Tech’s 6-foot-9 Cadarian Raines, on the right blocks between State’s T.J. Warren and Charles Howell, simply rushed to the other side of the lane and drew both Wolfpack players with him.
Raines darted from behind the free throw circle unblocked.
“I’ve done it both ways,” Gottfried said of fouling or not fouling with a three-point lead. “I’ve watched it a hundred times. There’s not a right answer. That ball bounced right off the rim perfectly for those guys and they did an excellent job.
“If they weren’t in such a great groove from the 3-point line, I probably wouldn’t have fouled.”
The Wolfpack’s Scott Wood had responsibility for Green, the shooter, on the play.
“I was boxing out the shooter, I think, at least I thought I was,” Wood said half-sheepishly.
But he didn’t question his coach’s decision.
“I think it was a smart move,” Wood said. “They got a perfectly drawn-up missed second free throw. That was unfortunate, but we’d do it again if we had the choice.”
Neither team led by more than seven throughout, and N.C. State needed a 14-0 run overcoming a technical foul courtesy of C.J. Leslie’s frustration. Tech drained 11 bombs from 3-point range, including three in the final four minutes of regulation, to help offset State’s advantage at the foul line (31-of-43 to 5-of-7).
“I think it’s a feel,” Gottfried said. “I think if you’re playing against a team that, maybe the 3-point shot isn’t that big a part of it or there’s only one guy, but they had two or three, really four 3-point shooters on the floor.”
And as Johnson reminded, “We still had to get back on defense.”
They did, with Brown missing a contested 3-pointer at the top of the key.
In the extra period, Wood hit a 3-pointer midway and State scored seven of the game’s final nine points — all at the foul line.
“It’s the game you came here to play,” Wood said of regrouping after Tech’s miraculous play. “And if you get five more minutes, you’ve got to take it.”
And finish at the end.
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