A bad shooting performance marred another good defensive effort by Virginia Tech on Sunday, as the underdog Virginia Cavaliers picked up a 54-49 road victory in Cassell Coliseum. It was the sixth time this season that the Hokies have lost by six points or less. Virginia Tech drops to 10-7 overall and 0-4 in the ACC, while the Cavaliers improve to 8-6 and 2-2.
The Hokies lost this game by shooting poorly. Tech shot just 33.3% (17-51) from the field, 14.3% (3-21) from three-point range and 60% (12-20) from the free throw line. The 33.3% field goal percentage and 49 total points are the worst marks of the season for Virginia Tech. The last time the Hokies failed to score 50 points was during the 2003-04 season when they fell to Boston College 56-48.
The terrible shooting performance overshadowed yet another good game on the defensive end. Tech forced 21 turnovers, committed just seven themselves, and held Virginia to just 54 points. They scored 21 points off turnovers, meaning they managed just 28 points without help from UVA. The Hokies forced a combined 46 turnovers against UNC and Virginia, but could not manage to win either game. In losses to Old Dominion, UNC and UVA, the Hokies have given up just 58, 64 and 54 points.
Zabian Dowdell led the way for the Hokies with 16 points. However he hit just 5-of-15 shots from the field and 2-of-8 from three-point range. Dowdell did play very well defensively, recording five steals. He also tied for the team lead with five rebounds, three coming on the offensive end.
Coleman Collins scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds, but like Dowdell, he could never find his shot. Collins finished just 4-of-11 from the field. Collins was 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Zabian Dowdell was 4-of-5 from the free throw line, meaning the rest of the team hit just 2-of-7. The Hokies missed the front end of a one-and-one on three different occasions.
Jamon Gordon also had a good game for Virginia Tech. Gordon scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, handed out three assists and had two steals. Like the rest of his teammates, he had a very good game defensively and was the only Tech player to have success driving to the basket.
The Hokies got off to a good start, taking a 6-2 lead on a Wynton Witherspoon reverse layup with 17:21 remaining in the first half. Those were the only points Witherspoon scored during the game, after averaging 18 points per game against Florida State and North Carolina.
Virginia’s three-point shooting kept them in the game in the first half. The Cavaliers hit four field goals between the 13:44 mark and the 9:15 mark, and all four of them were three-pointers. The last, made by small forward Adrian Joseph, put UVA up 17-13. At that point Virginia Tech had scored just seven points in over eight minutes of action.
That drought ended when the Hokies went on a short 6-0 run to retake the lead 19-17. Zabian Dowdell was fouled on a three-point attempt by Virginia’s J.R. Reynolds, and he converted all three free throws. On the ensuing Virginia possession, Dowdell stole the ball from Reynolds and found Jamon Gordon wide open in the corner for a three-pointer. The Hokies led by two with 8:16 left in the first half.
Virginia Tech did not score again until the 2:09 mark of the half when Zabian Dowdell hit a running layup on a fast break. Dowdell’s shot tied the game at 21, but J.R. Reynolds promptly answered with a three-pointer for Virginia to put the Cavs back up 24-21. On Tech’s next possession, Dowdell missed a three-pointer, but Deron Washington was there for the put back to bring the Hokies within one. UVA forward Jason Cain hit a free throw before halftime, and UVA went into the intermission leading 25-23.
Virginia Tech opened the second half ice cold from the floor, missing their first eight shot attempts. The Cavaliers managed to score four points in that span, increasing their lead to 29-23. The Hokies finally got on the scoreboard when Coleman Collins hit a layup with 16:37 remaining in the game, but his shot was answered by an Adrian Joseph three-pointer to put Virginia up 32-25.
A key point in the game came with 11:11 remaining and Virginia leading 32-29. Coleman Collins got free underneath for a dunk, and the ball went down as far as the bottom of the net, but then bounced back out. The officials ruled that the basket did not count, and when Seth Greenberg voiced his displeasure, he was given a technical foul. J.R. Reynolds hit both free throws for UVA, and then he was fouled on the ensuing Cavalier possession. Reynolds hit both free throws yet again, and the Cavaliers had a 36-29 lead with 10:59 remaining in the game.
Virginia Tech responded by going on a 15-4 run that gave them their first lead of the second half. Coleman Collins scored six points during the run, and UVA post players Tunji Soroye and Laurynas Mikalaukas fouled out. Things looked like they were finally turning the Hokies’ way when Coleman Collins hit two free throws to put Tech up 44-40 with 5:17 remaining in the game. But then UVA point guard Sean Singletary took over.
Singletary first hit a layup with 4:47 left in the game to cut the lead to 44-42. After Jamon Gordon answered with a layup for the Hokies, Singletary struck again, this time hitting a floater from the paint with 4:00 remaining to cut the lead to 46-44. Zabian Dowdell answered for Virginia Tech with a three-pointer from the wing, and the Hokies led 49-44 at the 3:39 mark. Dowdell’s three-pointer was the last time Tech scored.
Back came Singletary and the Cavs. The sophomore sensation hit a three-pointer with 3:19 remaining to pull UVA within two, and following a rare turnover by the Hokies and a foul by Jamon Gordon, Singletary hit two free throws to tie the game at 49 with 2:28 remaining. With 45 seconds left in the game, Adrian Joseph hit another three-pointer to put Virginia up 52-49. The Hokies later had two chances to tie the game, but three-pointers by Wynton Witherspoon and Jamon Gordon were no good. The Cavaliers hit two free throws down the stretch to get the 54-49 win, and the Hokies missed their last six shots from the field.
The 0-of-8 start and the 0-of-6 finish of the second half was just enough to keep the Hokies from picking up their first ACC victory of the season. They were 9-of-12 from the field in the second half between those two droughts.
Virginia Tech will have the remainder of the week off before traveling to Maryland on Saturday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm and the game will be televised by Jefferson Pilot/Raycom.