Make It Eleven! Carolina Escapes Virginia Tech 60-56
With the loss, the Hokies fell to 9-19 on the season and 2-14 in the ACC.
The Tar Heels struggled to find their form early on, falling behind 16-11 with 9:49 on the first half clock, but the shots started falling with electric plays by Marcus Paige and J.P. Tokoto.
UNC maintained a six to eight point lead for most of the second half of play, eventually salting away the victory with some great hustle plays and some timely makes by James Michael McAdoo.
“Virginia Tech’s zone defense really gave us problems. We didn’t get the kind of movement we’d been getting nor did we shoot the ball as well. A week ago we shot 70 percent from three and all this kind of stuff. We didn’t do it very well today and didn’t make free throws down the stretch either. You got to congratulate them for their defense bothering us,” Coach Williams says.
McAdoo led the scoring charge for the Tar Heels with 15 points while Leslie McDonald provided a nice contribution with 14 points despite major struggles from the free throw line down the stretch.
As for the Hokies, Jarell Eddie led the way with 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the tenacious Tar Heels.
The Hokies won the opening tip, but failed to convert. The Tar Heels wasted no time getting on the board with a Kennedy Meeks score inside.
Leslie McDonald popped a three-pointer to push Carolina out to a 5-0 lead with 18:10 to play in the opening half. McDonald then pushed it to the rim for an easy layup to increase the advantage out to 7-0.
Virginia Tech started to find some holes in the UNC defense and made a couple baskets to close the gap down to 9-4 with 15:10 to play in the half.
Trevor Thompson knocked down a jumper to close the margin down to three at 9-6. And after a Carolina score, Thompson went back to work to narrow the gap back down to 11-8 with 12:30 to go in the half.
The game was locked up at 11-11 with the first Hokie three-point make of the game. Virginia Tech spurted ahead to a 16-11 advantage with 9:49 left on the first half clock.
Carolina went through a stretch of shooting 1-10 from the field to allow Virginia Tech to seize the momentum of the contest in Cassell Arena.
The Hokie defensive intensity was definitely making life difficult for the Tar Heels in the first half.
McAdoo flew into the paint and finished with a beautiful dunk to reclaim the lead for the Tar Heels at 17-16 with 6:19 to play. And it was 10 unanswered points when J.P. Tokoto took off with an aerial assault that pushed the lead out to 21-16.
Marcus Paige darted inside and pulled up for jumper that went through the nets. Carolina took the 23-19 lead with 3:02 to play in the first half.
McDonald got a couple more points added to the scoreboard on a goal tending call on Virginia Tech to push the UNC lead out to 28-21.
As both teams jogged into the locker rooms, Carolina held the 28-21 lead at Virginia Tech.
The halftime stat sheet read in favor of the Tar Heels with UNC shooting at 38.7 percent clip from the field while Virginia Tech only managed to knock down 32 percent from the floor.
Carolina’s Leslie McDonald led the way with seven points while Hokies Devin Wilson and Thompson each posted four points.
Carolina wasted no time to score in the second half, but Virginia Tech responded on the other end, and the scoreboard read 30-23 with 18:45 to play in the game.
McDonald swished a three-pointer from behind the arc to extend the lead out to 34-25 with 16:02 left in the contest.
McAdoo matched a Johnson three-pointer with a make on the other end to keep UNC’s nose in front. The Tar Heels maintained a 36-28 advantage with 14:10 to play.
Wilson drove to the rim and drew a foul to get sent to the free throw line. He converted on both foul shots to cut the lead down to 36-33 with 12:48 to play.
Virginia Tech tied it up at 36 points with a long-range three-pointer to ignite crowd. Tokoto answered for the Tar Heels to nudge them out in front 39-36.
Tokoto stepped up again with a physical conversion in the paint. to push the Tar Heel advantage out to 42-36 with 9:45 to play in the game.
Virginia Tech cut it to within two points at 42-40, but McDonald knocked down a big three-point shot to keep Carolina up 45-40 with 8:02 to play.
Paige scored an insurance bucket for Carolina to extend the lead out to 47-40. McAdoo fed off the energy and in an instant, UNC had gained a more comfortable 49-40 advantage.
McAdoo hit a deep jumper to keep the Hokies at bay and continue the offensive surge for the Tar Heels. But Virginia Tech responded with a three-point play. The Tar Heeld led the Hokies 51-45 with 5:06 left in the game.
McAdoo came up with another impressive play to improve his tally up to 13 points and give the Tar Heels the 55-47 lead with 2:30 to play.
Carolina was able to salt away the road victory to record an eleventh straight win.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a return to the Smith Center to take on Notre Dame Monday night.
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