Virginia Tech did not trail during regulation, but still lost to Syracuse 68-60 in overtime in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night. The Hokies dropped to 12-11 overall and 4-6 in the ACC with the loss, while the Orange improved to 16-8 and 6-5.
The first 37 minutes of this game went as well as Virginia Tech could have hoped for. Despite playing two nights ago against Pitt and having just one day to prepare for Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone, the Hokies led for the majority of the game and in general outplayed Syracuse. A Kerry Blackshear layup with 3:12 remaining put Tech up 53-46, and all looked well.
Unfortunately, the last 2:56 of regulation did not go Tech’s way. Part of that is the Hokies’ fault. Seth Allen missed a breakaway layup with 1:15 left when it appeared he could have dropped it off to Blackshear for an easy dunk. Later with 46 seconds remaining, Justin Bibbs only made one of two free throws. The second free throw would have given the Hokies a 57-53 lead.
Naturally, Syracuse took advantage when Michael Gbinije drained an extremely deep three-pointer to tie the game with 34 seconds remaining. The shot came with a little under 20 seconds remaining under the shot clock, and in hindsight was a poor shot considering the score, the distance, and the time remaining. Nevertheless, it went in, and Justin Bibbs’ final shot attempt hit off the front of the rim and was no good.
Despite never leading in regulation, the 5-minute overtime period belonged to Syracuse. They never trailed over the final five minutes, and eventually pulled away and won and 8-point game. Gbinije nailed a fadeaway jumper on his team’s first possession, which represented their first lead of the game. Syracuse never trailed after that shot.
On the whole, it was reminiscent of Virginia Tech’s trip to the Carrier Dome last season. Last year the Hokies led by 13 points with 6:31 remaining, but lost the game in the final moments on a Michael Gbinije jumper. This time the Hokies led the whole way yet again, and it was Gbinije’s shot that forced overtime.
The end of regulation and the overtime period undid what was an otherwise good performance by Virginia Tech. The Hokies had 16 assists on 23 made shots, including 10 assists on 11 made shots in the first half, despite having just one day (while traveling) to prepare for Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone.
Justin Bibbs paced Virginia Tech with 16 points and 11 rebounds. It was his first double-double since scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against this same Syracuse team in Cassell Coliseum last year. Zach LeDay added 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Seth Allen scored 11 points.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday when they host red-hot Clemson. Tipoff is scheduled for 4pm, and the game will be televised by RSN. Check your local listings.