No. 15/16 Virginia Tech blew a 14-point halftime lead in a 73-64 overtime loss to No. 14/13 Florida State on Tuesday night in Tallahassee. The Hokies dropped to 22-7 overall and 11-6 in the ACC with the loss, while the Seminoles improved to 24-6 overall and 12-5 in league play. The ‘Noles are now 49-3 in their last 52 home games, and they clinched the No. 4 seed and the double bye in next week’s ACC Tournament. Tech will most likely be the No. 5 seed in the tournament, which means a rematch with Florida State could be coming next Thursday.
The Hokies dominated the first half, leading 33-19 at the halftime intermission. Playing at home with five seniors on Senior Night, Florida State immediately got back into the game in the second half and cut into Virginia Tech’s lead. Their rally started on the defensive end, where they made it more difficult for the Hokies to move the ball and get good shots.
By the 14:18 mark of the second half, Florida State had cut Virginia Tech’s lead to 41-37. That’s when disaster struck for the Hokies. Kerry Blackshear was whistled for his third foul, a questionable charging call, and he went to the bench. Buzz Williams tried to use him on offense while substituting him out on defense, but that backfired as the Hokies turned the ball over and Blackshear had to stay in on defense. FSU immediately went inside and drew a fourth foul with Tech up 41-40, and Blackshear went right back to the bench.
The Seminoles went on take the lead, getting up 46-41 with 10:51 before Tech came back and tied the game at 46. The game stayed close, and Florida State led 57-54 when Blackshear, back in the game, picked up his fifth foul with 2:46 remaining. His night was done, and two more FSU free throws increased their lead to 59-54.
Tech showed resiliency down the stretch by keeping the game close despite being out-manned, and they managed to force overtime on a big three-pointer by Ahmed Hill with just eight seconds remaining. That made the score 61-61. FSU guard Terance Mann missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have won it in regulation for the Seminoles.
Virginia Tech scored the first point of overtime – a free throw from Ahmed Hill – but that was to be their final lead of the game, as the deeper Seminole squad eventually took control against the Hokies. Blackshear, who dominated the month of February for Virginia Tech, played just 23 of the 45 minutes against Florida State. He had nine points, five rebounds and four assists.
Turnovers were critical, and they went in Florida State’s favor. Tech had just four turnovers in the first half as they ran out to a 14-point lead, but they had 10 over the second half and in overtime. Florida State committed just seven turnovers, and they outscored the Hokies 21-8 in points off turnovers. It ruined a good rebounding night for Virginia Tech, who outrebounded the bigger Seminoles 37-32 despite Blackshear missing so much time due to foul trouble
Tech outshot Florida State 41.5% to 37.9%, including 29.6% to 27.8% from three-point range. The Hokies forced the Seminoles into 36 three-point attempts (they only made 10 of them) because they did a good job of keeping the ball out of the paint. However, Florida State had five more overall field goal attempts and seven more free throw attempts than Tech, mostly because of that turnover difference. Both teams did a good job at the free throw line, with the Hokies going 12-of-15 (80%) and the Seminoles going 19-of-22 (86.4%).
Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the Hokies with 19 points. He was 7-of-17 from the field. Ahmed Hill had 18 points and nine rebounds, and he was 6-of-12 from the field and 3-of-6 from the outside. Ty Outlaw chipped in with 10 points, and Wabissa Bede had six points and eight rebounds. However, the Hokies got just two points from their bench, and that basket came late in overtime by PJ Horne after the outcome was already decided.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Friday night for their final regular season game against Miami in Cassell Coliseum, where the curtain will drop on the home careers of seniors Ahmed Hill, Ty Outlaw and Justin Robinson, though it isn’t for certain that Robinson will be able to play. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.