N.C. State's C.J. Williams walks off the court after the Wolfpack's 77-69 loss to Virginia Tech. ETHAN HYMAN - email@example.com
RALEIGH — In the final minutes, N.C. State fought for loose balls, scrapped for rebounds and didn't allow Virginia Tech to have any free rides to the basket.
It was a big effort but a little too late. Virginia Tech diffused a late Wolfpack rally for a 77-69 win on Wednesday night at the RBC Center.
Scott Wood's hard foul of Virginia Tech forward Terrell Bell with 3:48 left underscored State's intensity as it tried to erase a 15-point deficit.
But the same hustle plays that got State back in the game in the final 5 minutes were mostly absent in the first 35.
Virginia Tech got a double-double from Jeff Allen and 22 points from Malcolm Delaney to hand the Wolfpack its sixth ACC loss in seven games.
Eighteen points off the bench from freshman C.J. Leslie couldn't overcome a slow shooting start and an inconsistent offensive effort.
Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe uncharacteristically tried a 2-3 zone, for the game's first 10 minutes, and even gave seldom-used forward Kendall Smith three minutes in the first half, but neither desperate move could slow down Virginia Tech on the glass.
N.C. State got out-rebounded 27-12 in the first half, and allowed the Hokies to score 19 second-chance points, as it dug too big of a hole. Virginia Tech, an undersized team missing half of the frontcourt players it expected to have before the season started, had more offensive rebounds in the first half (14) than State had total rebounds (12).
Allen finished with a 11 rebounds and 15 points. Victor Davila led the Hokies with 13 boards.
Undone by rebounding problems and poor shooting — and another slow start — the Wolfpack is 2-6 in the ACC with a trip to conference leader Duke next on the schedule.
It got ugly early for State, which was trying to come back after a disastrous 20-point loss at North Carolina on Saturday. Without freshman guard Ryan Harrow, who missed a second straight game with viral-like symptoms, the offense started slow, shooting 37 percent in the first half (10-27).
The Hokies built a 39-26 halftime lead and then fended off sporadic attempts by the Wolfpack to rally in the second half.
The Pack cut the lead to nine points after Wood and C.J. Williams hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 46-37 with 15:20 left.
Then Virginia Tech scored the next six points. Allen's take-a-rookie-to-school dunk on Leslie came at 13:35 in the midst of Tech's push.
State made one last gasp, with a 13-4 run capped by Lorenzo Brown's three-point play at 4:35 to make it 63-57.
But Bell, who's two-handed dunk highlighted the ease of Tech's first half, went for another highlight slam but was hit by Wood. Bell hit both free throws and then State had an empty possession, a missed shot by Tracy Smith.