On Wednesday night, the North Carolina State Pack (11-9, 7-8 ACC) earned its fourth straight ACC road win while the #15 Virginia Cavaliers (15-6, 11-4 ACC) lost its first game of the season at John Paul Jones arena by a final score of 68-61.
Cam Hayes buried two triples early on for NC State, and the great ball movement for the Pack gave them a 15-4 lead. Meanwhile, UVA started 2-13 from the floor and 0-6 from beyond the arc, which included a five and a half minute scoring drought. UVA was able to bring the score close later in the second half behind Jay Huff’s 8 early points. Reece Beekman drained a shot at the buzzer, making the score 29-23 with NC State leading at halftime.
In the second half, Sam Hauser came out hot and drilled two straight threes, a welcome sign after only 2 points in the first half on 1-7 shooting. After the initial 2-13 start, UVA went 10-16 from the field to tie the game at 29. The Hoos got their first lead of the game at 35-33, but NC State quickly pulled away again.
NC State defense was impressive throughout the game, but the Virginia offense also had a poor performance on the night, shooting just 37% from the floor and 28% from three. On the other end, the Pack was able to get in the paint and score frequently. DJ Funderburk led the way with 9 straight points in one stretch, and finished with 14 on the night.
UVA tried to mount a comeback, as Jay Huff hit a three to pull within five points, but Funderburk responded with a three-point play. Then, Sam Hauser hit a 3, and Cam Hayes, who had a team high 15 points, banked in a 3 as the shot clock expired to cancel out the Cavalier points. Just as the Hoos started to score frequently, they were forced to foul to keep enough time on the clock. Sam Hauser hit 2 threes late in the game to keep it interesting. However, there was not enough time and NC State came away with the 61-68 victory.
Once again, a lack of contribution by Trey Murphy III, Reece Beekman, and the bench put the game in the hands of Sam Hauser (21 points), Jay Huff (19), and Kihei Clark (11). This was a similar pattern to the loss against Duke, and different from the balanced offensive attacks of impressive games earlier in the season.
UVA’s third straight loss gives them a more difficult path to the ACC regular season championship, with Florida State ahead of them and holding the head to head win. The Hoos will face Miami at home on Monday night as they strive to get back into shape as tournament play gets closer.