Stuck in a padded folding chair, shoulders hunched, nervously peering up at the scoreboard as the game slowly ticked away — no, that certainly was not what Torin Dorn envisioned for his final collegiate game in his hometown.
But as the final minutes trickled off the clock in Virginia’s 76-56 win over N.C. State in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, that’s all Dorn could do.
“Just how we let the game slip away,” Dorn, a Charlotte native, said of his thoughts those last few minutes. “I feel like we had them in a good position, had the game where we wanted it... and midway through the second (half), it kind of got away from us.”
Dorn is the Wolfpack’s leading scorer and rebounder this season, just as he was for last season’s NCAA Tournament team. But, he was only able to muster one of those two facets of his game Thursday... and not the more important one, as he was quick to remind afterward.
“We’ve got to be able to make shots to win games,” he said. “Definitely frustrating.”
Dorn finished the game with just seven points, well below his season average of 13.6. His team-high seven rebounds were right in line with his average of 7.1 per game, but again, rebounds don’t make the scoreboard go up.
And scoring points turned out to be the Wolfpack’s downfall, just as it has been for so many Cavaliers opponents in recent seasons. Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense is one of the staunchest in the country, and KenPom, a basketball analytics site, lists the team as the third-most efficient defensive team overall.
That the Wolfpack only shot 38.8 percent for the game should not come as a surprise. That inefficiency was the real killer. Dorn, for example, shot 3-for-9 from the floor. Braxton Beverly, 2-for-8. Even N.C. State’s top scorer Thursday, Markell Johnson with 13 points, was just 4-for-9.
Even with all that, the Wolfpack led 29-27 at the half, thanks to a combination of getting to the free-throw line and some unusual Virginia turnovers. Then midway through the second half, Virginia went on an 11-1 run — led by Kyle Guy, who finished with 29 points, and Jack Salt, who had a career-high 18 — and N.C. State couldn’t counter.
“It’s a lot of things that happened in a short amount of time that kind of blew the game open,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. “It was tough.”
By the last five minutes, Virginia’s lead had stretched almost to 20, prompting Keatts to bench Dorn and a few other key contributors.
So what comes next for Dorn and the Wolfpack? N.C. State beat Clemson in its ACC Tournament opener Wednesday but remains on the NCAA Tournament bubble given its weak nonconference schedule and lack of quality wins. Could one bad game back in his hometown be enough to also end Dorn’s collegiate career?
Likely not, but at this point, there’s nothing the Vance grad or anyone else on his team can do to state their case. N.C. State’s resume is what it is; the selection committee can take it — or leave it.
“In March, it’s one and done. You lose a game, it’s over,” Dorn said, when asked how he’d spend his time until Sunday, when the full tournament field is released. “Just rest, recover, get your body right, get healthy.
“That’s all you really can do.”