The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaker on their home court to Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon, losing 72-71 on a tip in at the buzzer. As time was running down, Bowling Green’s John Floyd put up a shot from the baseline but missed. With no opposing players in the vicinity, three Virginia Tech players went up to grab the game ending rebound, but freshman forward A.D. Vassallo accidentally tipped the ball into the basket for the Falcons just before the buzzer sounded.
Virginia Tech struggled from the opening tip in this contest. Jamon Gordon hit a jumper with 14:53 remaining in the first half to put Virginia Tech up 10-8. After Gordon’s shot things began to fall apart for the Hokies. The Falcons went on a 12-0 run to take a 20-10 lead with 10:32 remaining before intermission.
Bowling Green went up by 11 points, 25-14, on a Matt Lefeld free throw with 7:13 left in the first half. The Hokies would battle back just before halftime. Tech trailed 33-23 with 1:55 left, but went on a 5-0 run that closed the gap to 33-28 at halftime. Coleman Collins capped the small run with a jumper in the lane with 20 seconds remaining. Jamon Gordon would narrowly miss a half court buzzer beater before halftime.
The Hokies played from behind nearly the entire second half. Every time Tech cut into Bowling Green’s lead, the Falcons would respond by hitting some critical shots. Their most important run came after Coleman Collins cut the lead to 59-56 with 6:26 left in the game. Bowling Green went on a 7-0 run that extended their lead to 66-56 with 5:09 remaining.
Virginia Tech would respond to Bowling Green’s 7-0 run with a 9-2 run of their own. Sophomore forward Deron Washington threw down a thunder dunk, and later hit a layup while being fouled, and converted the free throw for a three-point play. Washington’s play down the stretch was one of the few bright spots for Virginia Tech. He scored 11 of his 17 points in the final 7:12 of the game, and converted all five of his free throw attempts in that stretch.
Bowling Green’s Martin Samarco missed a three-pointer with 37 seconds remaining in the game, and Washington pulled down the defensive rebound for the Hokies, who trailed 70-69. With 14 seconds in the game, Tech sophomore guard Jamon Gordon found a wide open Zabian Dowdell in the lane, and Dowdell converted the short jumper to put the Hokies on top 71-70. It was the first time Tech led since Gordon’s jumper put Tech up 10-8 early in the first half.
Then a bizarre sequence of events took place. Dowdell’s shot went down with 11.7 seconds remaining. The Falcons called a timeout, during which the officials reset the game clock to 12.6 seconds. Bowling Green inbounded the basketball, but the clock never started. The officials appeared to have straightened everything out and the Falcons inbounded the ball again, but with the clock reading 13 seconds at this point. They advanced it past midcourt, but play was stopped again because the clock was not started yet again.
Since the Falcons had advanced the ball past half court, and despite the fact that the clock never started, they were allowed to inbound the ball from midcourt instead of being forced to drive the length of the court. The officials then reset the clock to 9.9 seconds. At this point the clock finally started correctly, John Floyd missed his jumper from the wing, and Vassallo accidentally tipped in the rebound to hand Bowling Green the victory.
The Hokies were led by Coleman Collins, who scored a career high 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon chipped in with 13 points and12 points respectively. The fifth starter, Vassallo, scored just three points.
The most obvious reason Virginia Tech lost this game was because of bench production. Bowling Green’s bench outscored the Hokie reserves 23-4, with all four Tech points coming from Markus Sailes. Tech played nine players, but freshmen Cheick Diakite and Terrance Vinson played only two minutes each.
The game was even from a shooting standpoint. Tech shot 45.8% from the field, while Bowling Green shot 45.3%. But the Hokies shot just 23-35 from the free throw line (65.7%), while the Falcons shot 18-22 (81.8%). Tech was outrebounded 32-28.
The Hokies (1-1) return to action on Sunday afternoon against Western Carolina. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 pm and the game will not be televised.