The script just didn’t go right for N.C. State on Wednesday afternoon.
Coach Wes Moore was going for his 600th career victory against a last-place Virginia Tech team that was not only on a nine-game losing streak but had lost all 16 games in the series.
But when the Hokies’ Hannah Young let fly an open jumper from the left wing and it fell through the hoop with less than a second to go, none of that mattered.
The shot gave the No. 15 seed Hokies a 57-56 win and eliminated the No. 10 seed Wolfpack from the ACC women’s basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum.
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The result advanced the Hokies (11-19), who lost to the Wolfpack 73-59 on Jan. 18 in Raleigh, to a second-round game against No. 7 seed Pittsburgh (19-10) on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Vanessa Panoussis led the Hokies with 19 points. Sidney Cook added 12 and Kelsey Conyers, 10.
“This win negates to a certain degree a lot of the frustrations that we felt,” Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. “I think that we’ve had a half-dozen games (like this) against some of the better teams in the league, and we didn’t make enough plays.
“(Miah) Spencer made a huge play for them there near the end, and Hannah came back and made a huge play for us.”
Spencer, who made a 15-foot jumper and the free throw for a 56-55 lead with 15.3 seconds to go, was the only N.C. State player in double figures, with 19 points. The Wolfpack (16-14) is likely bound for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
Virginia Tech shot 44.2 percent to N.C. State’s 40.5 percent. The Wolfpack won the rebound battle 29-28, and turnovers were even at 14.
“Virginia Tech knocked down some shots and obviously hit some big 3s (7-for-21),” said Moore (599-191). “We’ve probably gotten a little too one-dimensional this year and relied on the jump shot too much. We haven’t established a good inside game, and I’ll take the blame for that.
“We lived and died by the 3-pointer or the jump shot, and today we just didn’t get enough good looks. Our kids have faced a lot of adversity and they’ve hung in there and battled and fought. But it’s a tough loss.”
It was a strange, slow game throughout, with zero fast-break points in 40 minutes.
There were 11 ties and 11 lead changes. The Wolfpack’s biggest lead was six points; the Hokies never led by more than two.
“We stayed with the game for longer periods of time and we didn’t have as many lapses as we had had throughout the season,” Panoussis said. “It was big for us to stick together throughout the whole game – not just 38 minutes or 35 minutes, but 40.”
Spencer said she thought her three-point play with 15 seconds left would be the winner.
“After the three-point play, I really felt like we were going to dig down in defense and not let them score and not have a great open look,” Spencer said. “They put a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t have a great shooting game. But we needed to attack and get to the free-throw line more.”
Young said she had a gut feeling she was going to hit the winner.
“It was exactly how the play was drawn up,” said Young, who finished with nine points, all in the final 7:02. “I’m still in shock, to be honest. Vanessa threw me that pass and I just shot it with confidence and in went in, and here we are.”