Seth Greenberg spent his post-game press conference cracking jokes at the media and discussing how much fun his team was having. Sidney Lowe’s press conference wasn’t as light-hearted.
“I guess its just kinda the same story the last five games or so,” Lowe said.
Those five games haven’t woven the sort of narrative Lowe was hoping for in league play. On Wednesday night, the Wolfpack fell behind by as many as 19 points in the first half and clawed within seven early in the second half before falling apart down the stretch. Virginia Tech spent the final 15 minutes of the game dominating, handing the Pack its fifth-straight conference loss with a 72-52 win at the RBC Center.
“I’ve never been a part of a team like this – losing is not something I’m big on,” Scott Wood said. “I think coach Lowe said it best – it was pretty much embarrassing tonight.”
The Pack didn’t make a single 3-pointer on the night, finishing 0-for-11 from behind the arc. The outside ineptitude snapped a 654-game streak of games with at least one 3-pointer, dating back to March 4, 1989 against Wake Forest.
“I’ll say this. In playing that position myself – a guard,” Lowe said. “I’d like to think that we could play better.”
To make matters worse, the Pack was also dealing with a string of ailments. Dennis Horner and Tracy Smith are both sufferring from flu-like sickness, with Smith spending pre-game, halftime and post-game throwing up. He also took an IV drip at the half to attempt to stay hydrated.
Richard Howell, who was slated to start the game, cut his leg running out onto the court for warm-ups. The cut was so bad that it required nine stitches and severly limited his playing time on Wendesday. Horner started in his place.
“He tried to go but he couldn’t really run,” Lowe said. “He couldn’t get back on defense. It happened on the way out to warm-ups. We’ll have to see how he feels tomorrow.”
Despite the sickness, Horner led all Wolfpack scorers and picked up his first career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Smith added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Josh Davis also scored 12 points and had six rebounds in the loss.
“Sixteen rebounds, that’s dern good,” Lowe said. “Dennis worked hard.”
The Hokies started out perfect from the field, hitting their first 10 shots while NC State lurched through its offensive sets, allowing Tech to build a 19-point lead at one point in the half. But the Hokies couldn’t keep the hot shooting up all half, and the Pack crashed the offensive boards to give itself second chances and climb back into the game.
On the final play of the half Julius Mays got Jeff Allen in the air with a pump fake and the Hokie big man came crashing down on top of him as Mays launched a 3-pointer, only for official Ted Valentine to swallow his whistle as time expired. The Hokies, thanks to some favorable officiating, still managed to take a 34-23 lead into the half.
“It’s gonna happen. Everybody is going to get fouled and it may not be called,” Wood said. “You just have to fight through it.”
The Pack cut the lead to as little as seven points in the second half, but Malcolm Delaney nailed a 3-pionter to put the Hokies back up by double-digits and effectively ended the Pack’s comeback hopes. Tech dominated from that shot till the end of the game, escaping with its first win in Raleigh in nearly a century.