Virginia Tech lost another heartbreaker on Saturday night, falling to #15 Boston College 74-73 in Cassell Coliseum. BC’s star forward Jared Dudley hit two free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining to give the Eagles the lead, and Zabian Dowdell’s three-pointer from the wing bounced off the front of the rim as time expired to condemn the Hokies to yet another close ACC loss. Tech is now 12-10 overall and 2-7 in ACC play, while BC improves to 17-5 and 5-4 in the ACC.
Dudley had a huge game for the Eagles, finishing with 26 points, 20 of which came in the first half. He shot well from the field, going 8-of-13. He was also 2-of-3 from three-point range and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Dudley was also very efficient on the boards, collecting seven rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end.
Dudley’s frontcourt teammate Craig Smith also had a good game, scoring 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, and grabbing seven rebounds. BC was very good in the paint as expected, with Dudley and Smith shooting 14-of-19 from the field.
The loss spoiled a very good shooting night for the Hokies, who shot 50% from the field and 42.9% from three-point range. Virginia Tech got good offensive contributions from a number of players, led by Zabian Dowdell. Dowdell scored 20 points and had five steals. He was also 3-of-6 from three-point range.
Freshman forward A.D. Vassallo continued his good play on the offensive end. Vassallo scored 14 points and shot well from the field, hitting 5-of-7 shots. He was 2-of-3 from three-point range. Vassallo collected four rebounds in 32 minutes of action. Jamon Gordon had perhaps the best line of any Tech player. The junior guard scored 16 points, handed out six assists, grabbed six rebounds, recorded two steals and committed just one turnover.
Coleman Collins returned to the Virginia Tech lineup on Saturday, although it is not known how long he will be back. Collins scored seven points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Wynton Witherspoon also played a solid game for the Hokies, scoring 11 points.
The first half was a very high-scoring affair, which is a rare occurrence in Virginia Tech basketball games. Both teams lit it up in the first 20 minutes, with the Hokies shooting 52.9% and the Eagles hitting 61.3% of their shots. BC was 6-of-11 from three-point range in the first half.
Boston College led by as many as six points in the first half but could never pull away from the determined Hokies, who had trouble on the defensive end, but made a number of big plays on offense. BC’s first six point lead came at the 12:04 mark on an Akida McLain jumper that put the Eagles up 18-12. But the Hokies fought back behind a Zabian Dowdell three-pointer and a Jamon Gordon jumper to cut the lead to 18-17.
The Eagles later led 27-21 following a Jared Dudley three-pointer with 8:29 remaining, but Tech went on a 6-0 run to tie the game at the 6:42 mark on a Coleman Collins offensive rebound and dunk. The Hokies then got the upper hand and took the lead, going up by as many as three points in the first half. Their final lead of the half came on an A.D. Vassallo three-pointer with 3:10 remaining to make the score 41-38. But BC’s Tyrese Rice, a freshman guard from Chesterfield, VA, answered Vassallo by hitting a three-pointer of his own to tie the game at 41. Rice would add another three-pointer with six seconds remaining in the half to put BC up 48-43. The Eagles took that lead into the halftime break.
The second half did not begin well for the Hokies. BC center John Oates hit two long jump shots to begin the half, and then Sean Marshall knocked down a three-pointer. One Zabian Dowdell free throw was the only point Virginia Tech could muster in the first 2:45 of the second half, and the Eagles opened the half on a 7-1 run to take a 55-44 lead.
But the Hokies ralled, going on a 10-2 run to get back into the game. First A.D. Vassallo hit a layup and then grabbed a steal on the other end of the court. Jamon Gordon then found Wynton Witherspoon for a layup, and Witherspoon was fouled on the play. He converted the free throw to cut the lead to 55-49. Akida McLain scored on the next possession to put BC back up 57-49, but Witherspoon struck again with another driving layup. On Tech’s next possession, Zabian Dowdell hit a three-pointer. The Hokies now trailed 57-54 with 14:57 left in the game.
Virginia Tech continued to cut into the lead, and finally went on top 62-61 with 12:04 remaining. Zabian Dowdell drove inside and found Deron Washington all alone on the wing for a three-pointer. It was Washington’s only made basket all night, and he finished with just three points and one rebound.
At that point, what had been a high-scoring affair turned into a defensive slugfest. Boston College outscored the Hokies 13-11 over the final 12:04 of the game. The Eagles came back and took a 70-64 lead on two Jared Dudley free throws with 6:58 remaining. Virginia Tech held BC to just four points the rest of the game after Dudley’s free throws.
Jamon Gordon and Coleman Collins sparked the final Virginia Tech run. Gordon started the run by hitting two free throws, and Collins then hit a layup on a fastbreak to cut the lead to 70-68 with 3:44 remaining. Craig Smith scored for BC with 2:11 left to make the score 72-68, and the Hokies battled back once again. At the 1:54 mark, Collins hit a layup and was fouled. He then converted the free throw to cut the lead to 72-71.
After several missed shots by Boston College, the Hokies got the ball back and called a timeout with 56 seconds remaining. With 37 seconds left in the game, Jamon Gordon drove the lane and connected on a layup to put the Hokies up 73-72. BC got the ball back and called a timeout with 31 seconds remaining. With 5.2 seconds left in the game, Dudley was fouled in the lane by Markus Sailes. Dudley’s first free throw hit the left side of the rim, bounced up and hit the glass, and finally fell in to tie the game at 73. His second free throw was perfect, putting the Eagles up 74-73.
Jamon Gordon got the inbounds pass and raced up the court. He reached the top of the key and found Zabian Dowdell open on the wing. Dowdell got a great look at a three-point attempt, but it was no good, and the Hokies fell short in their upset attempt.
The Hokies did almost everything they needed to do to get the win. They outscored Boston College 19-10 in points off turnovers, 32-30 in the paint and 13-0 in fastbreak points. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.
Virginia Tech will return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Clemson. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 and the game will not be televised.