Wolfpack ends home slate with a thud in 70-55 loss to Virginia

Mark Gottfrieds final home game doesnt go quite as planned with 15-point loss to Cavaliers

RALEIGH — Saturday was a lot of things for NC State. It was Senior Day. It was Mark Gottfried’s final home game. But, in the end, it was just another loss for the Wolfpack.The 70-55 loss to the Cavaliers was the Pack’s sixth-straight home loss to close out the season. For a team that started the season 10-0 at PNC Arena — including a 104-78 win over Virginia Tech — the finish was another indicative sign of how the ACC slate has gone for NC State as a whole.Gottfried, the eternal optimist, reflected on the game as only he could after the loss.”I was just disappointed because I wanted us to win today,” Gottfried said. “We’ve got to go play at Clemson Wednesday, then we’ve got the [ACC] Tournament. Who knows? Great things could still happen for us.”Dennis Smith Jr., Markell Johnson, Abdul-Malik Abu and Terry Henderson all finished the game scoring in double-digits, but the Pack shot 32.1 percent on the afternoon. It was a horrid afternoon for the Pack’s offense, but that was to be expected against the No. 1 scoring defense in the country.The offense wasn’t there for NC State on Saturday. Neither was the defense.In its previous three games, Virginia went 0-3 — part of four straight losses — while averaging 50 points. The Hoos had 52 with 10 minutes remaining in the game against the Wolfpack while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field against the Wolfpack.Kyle Guy, whose season-high in ACC play was 14 points coming into the game, finished with 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. Guy’s performance along with a 15-0 run in the first half gave the Hoos the lead they needed to head into the second half with a comfortable lead.”I remember watching him play [last year], and thought, ‘Who’s the new kid with the ponytail?'” Terry Henderson said after the game. “He was playing a great game when I was watching him. You could tell he had a little rhythm, which was unique a little bit. … He’s a good player.”The afternoon started with plenty of emotions as BeeJay Anya, Henderson and Chris Brickhouse were honored on Senior Day. Anya accepted his framed jersey with tears streaming down his face. He was immediately greeted with a hug from the entire team as Lennard Freeman, a blubbering mess, couldn’t contain his emotions either.While the production wasn’t always there for the 2015 ACC Defensive First Team selection, but he leaves a legacy at NC State that won’t soon be forgotten. As the all-time leading blocker for the Wolfpack and 91 total blocks in 2014-15, Anya let all the emotions pour out on Saturday afternoon.”It was just realizing that I’ve been here for four years and it’s all coming to an end,” Anya said. “I was also a little upset my mom wasn’t there because she was running late from home. It was an emotional time today realizing it was my last time playing at PNC.”As Gottfried mentioned, NC State does in fact have one game left on the regular season calendar. A road matchup with Clemson offers the Wolfpack a chance to avoid a losing season for the second straight year before heading into the ACC Tournament.Regardless of the outcome, the optimism is still somehow there for the Wolfpack. When asked if it’s hard to believe the team can still win after losing eight of the last nine games, Abu never wavered from his confidence in the team.”I have a strong belief in my team and my staff,” Abu said. “I just feel like we’re waiting to get rolling and trying to go out there and win every game. We’ve just got to put it all together. I feel like we’ve shown flashes every game. … The effort is there. We’ve just got to go out there and play as hard as we can.”