Wisconsin Downs Virginia Tech 84-74 in NCAA Tournament

Seth Allen 2017 NCAA Tournament vs Wisconsin
Seth Allen (4) and the Hokies fell to Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament, 84-74 (photo: David Marino)

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Five times Thursday night, the Virginia Tech Hokies knocked on the door.

Each time, though, the Wisconsin Badgers were there to turn them away. Thus, a season of defying expectations came to an end for the Hokies in an 84-74 loss to the Badgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Nobody can say the Hokies didn’t have their chances inside KeyBank Center. Although Wisconsin led the entire second half, Virginia Tech trimmed the deficit to just one point five different times. With several chances to either take the lead, or tie the game when they trailed by two or three, however, they were unable to make it happen.

“Obviously it’s emotional any time you come to the end,” coach Buzz Williams said. “Our last game, postgame locker room, this is my 10th year as a head coach – it’s always been the same. The one thing that I said different tonight than I said last year … is, as emotional as you are, it’s important that you go back to the hotel, and write down all of the things that you learned.

“There’s a lot to learn from all of this and you have to dissect it the right way.”

Bronson Koenig’s hot shooting is a big reason why the Hokies are left to reflect. The Wisconsin senior hit a school-record eight three-pointers as part of 28 points, while Nigel Hayes added 16 for the eighth-seeded Badgers (26-9). Wisconsin is the only team in the country to advance to the Sweet 16 the past three years, but almost had that streak ended Thursday to the underdog Hokies.

Virginia Tech’s depth, experience and size were all disadvantages. With just a seven-man rotation, any sort of injury severely tests Williams’ lineup. The Hokies found that out when senior leader Seth Allen came out of the game with 13:45 left in the first half. He went into the tunnel and later sat on the bench while trainers looked at his right foot. Williams said after the game Allen is dealing with “really bad turf toe.”

Allen missed 8 minutes of game time, saying afterward “I kind of got beat up a little bit, but I was good in the second half.”

He gutted through his injury to finish with 10 points and a game-high six assists, but clearly wasn’t himself, going just 3 of 10 from the floor, including 1 of 5 from three-point range.

Virginia Tech (22-11), which made its first appearance in the tournament since 2007, trailed at halftime, 34-30. The deficit ballooned to seven points early in the second half, but the Hokies wouldn’t go away.

Redshirt junior Ty Outlaw, who played all 40 minutes for the first time in his career, hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 39-35. Outlaw, who missed all of last season because of a heart condition, finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Virginia Tech shot 46.9 percent from the field (23 of 49), 41.2 percent from three-point range (7 of 17) and 80.8 percent from the free-throw line (21 of 26), percentages that would have looked even better if not for some late, desperation misses.

Zach LeDay Dunk 2017 NCAA Tournament vs Wisconsin
Zach LeDay scored a team-high 23 points in his final game as a Hokie (photo: David Marino)

“We went out there, we fought as hard as we could,” said senior Zach LeDay, who scored a team-high 23 points before fouling out with just over 20 seconds remaining. “I guess at the end of the day, they made more winning plays than us, but we’re going to have pride no matter what. We went out there and played as hard as we could and gave it our all. We just came up short.”

Virginia Tech trailed, 74-73, after a pair of free throws from LeDay with 2:25 remaining. Hayes, however, made a traditional three-point play at the other end, then Allen missed a three-pointer. Wisconsin center Ethan Happ then cleaned up a miss for a layup and Wisconsin went up, 79-73.

“I just know I had a couple opportunities,” LeDay said about being unable to tie the game, or pull ahead in the second half. “I’ve got to be better as a leader and make them shots. … We weren’t really thinking about the score. I know I wasn’t looking at the score for a second. I was just out there playing as hard as I could for my teammates.”

After LeDay fouled out, Allen greeted him with a hug before he went to the bench.

“Zach’s like my brother,” Allen said. “We came in together and this is the last game we play together in college, so I just wanted to tell him I love him.”

— hokiesports.com box score —

11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. They gave it all they had, but could just not quite catch up. Ten point final margin but it was really more like a four point loss.

    Hate to see players go, but we wish them well in whatever their next steps in life are. We look forward to seeing what those making up the next team can do.

    Buzz has things going in the right direction. Can’t wait to see how he can mold next season’s version of HOKIE Basketball!

  2. We were good, Wisconsin is good. Good game, good effort. I hope the Badgers beat Villanova.

  3. This group of young men epitomizes the word “team”. One look and you can see they are a band of brothers who work extremely hard, pushing themselves to be more than the sum of their parts. Even more importantly, they lift each other up emotionally.

    I’m very proud of the team. There has been a definite culture change in the men’s basketball program and it all starts with Buzz (and Whit’s decision to hire him). I see real effort, development, unselfishness, and accountability. I like they way they handle themselves in public, on the court and the classroom.

    The future is bright, indeed.

  4. Many times in sports-after games, you can look back and find a bunch of what ifs and many times, it is about a lack of concentration or effort. Nobody can say that this team didn’t play their a**es off. They did and what a great group! The future is bright but for Seth and Zach…they can rest in the fact that they helped Buzz turn this around. That will be their everlasting gift to all of Hokie Nation!!

  5. Very very proud of the players and coaches on this team. What a great group and I’m sad to see the season end. The future is very bright with Buzz at the helm and his ability to recruit such quality young men to become part of the Hokienation!!

  6. Proud of the fellas! Great effort and heart. Don’t know how we can replace Zach LeDay. What a competitor!

    No shame in losing to Wisc. There’s no substitute for tourney experience; you can’t buy it or coach it. Their battle-tested seniors stepped up, esp Koenig and Hayes. I give them credit.

  7. Great Season. Hate to see it end. Gonna miss all the seniors especially Allen and LeDay. I hope we continue to improve under the direction of a great (future Hall of Fame) coach. Basketball has returned to Blacksburg in a big way. I hope the Hokies make the Dance next year too.

  8. Love the LeDay/Allen interaction after he fouled out. That is the true spirit of the team. Hate to see those guys go, but like MCH80 says, the future looks bright.

  9. The team gave it a great effort last night. Perhaps just ran out of gas. I cannot wait until injured players heal and with reinforcements on the way the future looks bright. Go Hokies!

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