NC State 70, Virginia Tech 58

Early March is the time of year when a lot of coaches are

lobbying for their teams to receive a bid to the NCAA

Tournament.

North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried made a pretty good

case for his bunch on Sunday night.

Scott Wood scored 19 points to lead the Wolfpack past Virginia

Tech 70-58, as N.C. State secured a winning mark in ACC play for

the first time since 2005-06.

N.C. State (20-11, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), which snapped

a four-game skid to the Hokies and won 20 games in the regular

season for the first time since 2005-06, also got 18 points from

C.J. Leslie.

The Wolfpack clinched the No. 5 seed in the ACC tournament

Thursday in Atlanta, where they will play No. 12 seed Boston

College at 2:30 p.m.

”Every coach stands on their soapbox,” Gottfried said. ”I

hope we’re in the discussion, and if you look at what we did in the

non-conference and who we played, our non-conference strength of

schedule is as high as it is . we’ve done what the committee asks

you to do. No question.

”We’ve got a lot going in our favor. Now we’ve got to go to

Atlanta and keep putting ourselves in a better position. That’s

what we need to do. That’s the plan for our team.”

In contrast, Virginia Tech (15-16, 4-12) lost its fourth

straight and will be the No. 10 seed in the conference tournament.

The Hokies will play No. 7 seed Clemson at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

N.C. State trailed early, but used a 16-2 run midway through the

first half to take the lead for good. In the second half, the

Hokies cut the Wolfpack lead to 51-47 on an Erick Green jumper with

10:30 remaining. Gottfried then switched his defense from

man-to-man to a 2-3 zone as the Wolfpack went on an 11-0 run and

never looked back.

”I contemplated it in the first half,” Gottfried said of the

switch. ”They’re pretty good off the dribble, and they’re hard to

contain sometimes. We didn’t use it in the first half, but it was

one of those things, `Have a hunch, bet a bunch.’ I felt like we

were getting beat off the dribble, and I thought we’d take a look

at it for a trip or two and see what happens.”

Wood hit 5 of 11 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and

made all six of his free-throw attempts. Leslie finished with 18

points, hitting 7 of 9 from the floor, as the Wolfpack shot 51.1

percent (23 of 45). He also grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the

Wolfpack to a 40-25 advantage on the glass.

”I think these past seven or eight games, he’s played as good

as anyone in this league,” Gottfried said. ”He has risen up to

another level. I’m really proud of him. He’s been really

good.”

Cadarian Raines scored 15 points for the Hokies, who shot just

36.7 percent (22 of 60).

”It’s just disappointing,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg

said. ”I don’t know if our emotional gas tank was on empty after

three straight weeks of playing every single possession to the last

play of the game. I hope that’s what it was. I don’t know if we

were due one of these, but I know we’ve got a small margin of

error. We just didn’t play well.

”They’re a tough matchup. Leslie is a tough matchup for us.

You’ve got to give them credit. They played well, and we didn’t

play well.”