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March 15, 2013

Wahoos fall to NC State 75-56

Virginia struggled to hit from anything much beyond a few feet from the basket and couldn't stop NC State either from getting going in transition or finding Scott Wood.

And that was the story for the Cavaliers on the way to a 75-56 ACC Tournament Quarterfinal loss on Friday afternoon, likely putting them on the outside looking in for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

UVa (21-11) fell behind in the first half, much like it did in the regular-season finale at home against Maryland. But this time, playing inside the Wolfpack-loving Greensboro Coliseum and not John Paul Jones Arena, the long crawl back into the game wasn't meant to be.

That was largely because of Wood, as the senior scored a game-high 23 points and was 7 of 12 from 3-point range. He hit a pair of 3s in the Pack's 10-4 spurt in the first half that gave State (24-9) a 27-16 lead with 4:07 left. He hits three more in the first 2:28 of the second half and keyed an 11-4 run that put State up comfortably, 41-25.

Though Akil Mitchell chipped in a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds, State's control on the glass (39 to 28) was too much. The Pack got 18 points from T.J. Warren and 17 from All ACC forward Richard Howell.

The Wahoos made one 3-point shot in the first half, which came from All ACC guard Joe Harris. But his shooting slump continued mightily and if there's a maxim that has followed Tony Bennett and UVa this season it's that as Harris goes, so too does the team. Harris finished with 13 points, the only other Cavalier in double figures besides Mitchell. He was 4 of 13 from the field and just 2 of 9 from behind the arc.

As a team, Virginia shot 38.9 percent from the floor but went 5 of 20 from 3-point land.

In losing its fifth game 0f its last eight, Virginia continued its streak of falling in the ACC quarterfinals. Having not advanced to the semis since 1995, the Cavaliers again found an early exit and this time with a bye in the first round, just like last season.

"Credit to NC State," Bennett said. "They were certainly warriors on the offensive glass. When Wood gets it going like that, they become so dangerous. I think they're the most offensively-talented team in our league with the five on the floor at most times."

But it was State's defense on Harris, a day after doing something similar to ACC Player of the Year Erick Green, that proved pivotal. The Pack gave him very little air, playing him tight when the ball wasn't in his hands and hounding him throughout.

"I thought they did a good job of overplaying," Harris said. "They always had a hand in the face."

Now begins a tenuous couple of days until the selection committee hands out the at-large bids. Senior point guard Jontel Evans said that UVa will play in the postseason regardless of it it makes the NCAAs but if the Cavaliers don't get there, it won't be because they didn't have chances to earn a bid.

"Honestly, if we play like this we don't deserve to get in," he said. "If we play like we did against Duke and those other teams back like a month ago, we belong. It starts with our defense. That's our identity and when we don't play it, we look foolish."


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