- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

RALEIGH, N.C. Scooter Sherrill scored a career-high 20 points off the bench and Marcus Melvin, starting in place of the suspended Julius Hodge, added 16 as N.C. State defeated No.10 Virginia 85-68 last night.

The Wolfpack (17-6, 6-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) swept the slumping Cavaliers in the regular season for the first time since 1987-88 to remain in sole possession of fourth place in the ACC as Anthony Grundy added 25 points eight over the final 1:31.

Meanwhile, Virginia (14-6, 4-5) dropped its fourth straight and is in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since Nov.19, when the Cavaliers were ranked 11th.

Sherrill filled in when Melvin got into foul trouble, going six of nine from the field as N.C. State won its third game over a top 10 team two over the Cavaliers. Sherrill's previous best was 19 points earlier this season at Clemson.

Travis Watson led Virginia with a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds.

Hodge was suspended Tuesday by ACC commissioner John Swofford for throwing an elbow to the head of Maryland point guard Steve Blake over the weekend. He watched his teammates from the bench in street clothes.

But the Wolfpack didn't miss their freshman star, going nine of 20 from 3-point range and forcing a sloppy Virginia team into 20 turnovers to inch closer to the program's first NCAA tournament berth since 1991.

The 6-foot-8 Melvin had started the first 16 games before being demoted. But he made the most of his opportunity back with the starters, making all three of his 3-pointers in the first half to give the Wolfpack a working margin.

Melvin added another one behind the arc during N.C. State's 12-4 run to open the second half for a 20-point lead with 16:34 left.

Virginia never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way to drop its fifth straight in Raleigh.

Virginia fell behind early, then used an 8-0 run to gain some momentum as the Wolfpack offense started slowly without Hodge.

But the Cavaliers had a disastrous final 10 minutes of the first half, going 51/2 minutes without a point and managing just two baskets and six free throws by Watson as N.C. State took control.

N.C. State's defense keyed its 15-2 run. Virginia turned it over on four straight possessions and seven times overall during its scoring drought that turned the tide and gave the Wolfpack a 40-28 halftime lead.

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