A golden opportunity slipped away from Dave Leitao and the Hoos.
TAMPA, Fla. – Possessing a 14-point lead at halftime, the situation looked rosy for second-seeded Virginia in its ACC Tournament showdown against 10th-seeded N.C. State. Sean Singletary was playing at his usual stellar level, having scored 16 points, and Virginia’s frontcourt was producing on the offensive end, with Jason Cain, Laurynas Mikalauskas , and Ryan Pettinella having combined for 12 points.
It looked as if the second half would merely be a formality before the Cavaliers could start their preparations for a semifinal contest on Saturday afternoon. No one in the crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum, except maybe a few diehard Wolfpack fans, could have foreseen the collapse that was coming.
Singletary disappeared offensively and Virginia’s defense became as porous as a pasta strainer, leading to an epic collapse as the Cavaliers fell in disappointing fashion, 79-71, and were sent home without having notched an ACC Tournament victory.
“I thought that we got thoroughly out played in the second half,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. “When we started to give up the lead, what you need is a response and we just took our medicine and never responded. As a result, the score is only an indication of our lack of energy, or whatever adjective you want to us, especially, obviously, in that second half.”
Virginia’s biggest problem was that it just could not make enough defensive stops at key moments. After only hitting eight of 24 (33.3%) first half shots, N.C. State drained 17 of 23 (73.9%) second half field goal attempts.
“The reason that N.C. State started shooting the ball well was because we stopped defending and doing the things that we had done in the first half,” Leitao said.
N.C. State’s Gavin Grant opened the second half with two consecutive lay-ups as the Wolfpack got into a rhythm offensively. A 3-pointer from the right corner by Brandon Costner...
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