RALEIGH, N.C. —
Even with an ankle injury that isn’t fully healed, Lorenzo Brown found a way to thwart the nation’s leading scorer when it counted most.
Brown scored six of his 15 points in overtime and made a key steal from Erick Green that preserved North Carolina State’s 90-86 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
It was quite a finish for a point guard making his first start since he rolled his left ankle in a Jan. 29 loss at Virginia.
“I don’t think he’s 100 percent yet, but I think he’s showing an unbelievable amount of character through it,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “I thought he tried to make it as tough on Erick as he could to score. And Erick made some tough, tough shots. But I thought Lorenzo showed a lot of toughness.”
Scott Wood scored 22 points with a season-best six 3-pointers. C.J. Leslie added 16 points while Richard Howell had 10 points and 16 rebounds for the Wolfpack (18-7, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The preseason league favorites were 7 of 8 from the free-throw line in the final minute of OT to win their second straight. That followed a three-game slide that coincided with Brown’s injury and dropped them from the national rankings.
The Wolfpack were 31 of 43 from the line for the game while Green was the only Virginia Tech player to even attempt a foul shot, hitting 5 of 7 during his 29-point performance.
Jarell Eddie added 17 points — and made the key play that forced overtime — for the Hokies.
“We cannot continue to survive or try to be in ball games with Erick Green scoring 30 points a game,” Johnson said. “We have to have some help.”
Eddie’s 3-pointer put the Hokies up 84-83 with 1:45 left in OT. After the teams traded turnovers, Tyler Lewis countered with two free throws with 51.8 seconds left to put N.C. State ahead to stay.
Brown sandwiched two sets of two made free throws around a critical steal from Green with about 20 seconds left. Green was trying to drive from the left wing when he dribbled off his foot and Brown scooped up the ball — a mistake Virginia Tech coach James Johnson blamed on fatigue because Green played 43 minutes.
“I love to play against guys like him,” Brown said. “We were really going after it.”
Wood finished up one point shy of the season scoring high he set two months ago against St. Bonaventure while Lewis finished with 13 points and T.J. Warren had 12 for N.C. State.
Marshall Wood added 14 points and 16 rebounds for last-place Virginia Tech, which lost its eighth straight and 14th in 18 games and needed a wild rally in the final 10 seconds just to force overtime.
Eddie’s 3 with 9.2 seconds left pulled the Hokies to 77-75. After Scott Wood hit 1 of 2 free throws to give N.C. State a three-point lead, Brown fouled Green with 5.2 seconds left.
Green hit the first free throw and intentionally missed the second to the right side. Eddie swooped in from the opposite side with a stickback that tied it at 78 with 4.1 seconds left.
“No one touched me,” Eddie said. “I just came around and put it in.”
Brown’s rushed 3 at the buzzer hit off the back iron, sending the Hokies to their fourth overtime game this season and third in ACC play.
“We were stunned a little bit,” Gottfried said, “but our guys were able to regroup.”
Green, who leads the nation with a 25-point scoring average, was 11 of 24 from the field while hitting the 20-point mark for the 23rd time in 25 games.
His highlight-reel jumper put the Hokies up 60-53 with just under 8 minutes left in regulation. But they didn’t score again until freshman Will Johnston hit a 3-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes to play while allowing the Wolfpack to reel off 14 straight points and turn that seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead.
“We knew we had to match their run,” Brown said. “We made our run and played tough defense. If we do that, we’re a tough team to beat.”