Virginia Tech’s regular season came to an end on Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill in a way that is all too familiar for Hokie fans, players and coaches. Tech played #12 Boston College down to the wire, but Zabian Dowdell’s three-pointer at the buzzer fell just short, and the Eagles held on for a 59-57 victory. BC improves to 24-6 and 11-5 in the ACC, while the Hokies fall to 14-15 and 4-12 in conference play.
Once again, Virginia Tech put up a great fight against one of the top three teams in the conference, but couldn’t grab the win. Tech lost by two to Duke back in December, lost to UNC by three, and dropped two games to BC by one and two points respectively. In those four games against the top three teams in the ACC, Tech lost by a total of eight points.
The game was low scoring and neither team could establish an offensive rhythm, despite the fact that shooting percentages were high. The Hokies were 24-of-51 from the field for 47%. However they were just 3-of-12 (25%) from three-point range and 6-of-13 from the free throw line (46%). For the second consecutive game, Virginia Tech has shot better from the field than from the free throw line.
Boston College shot even better than the Hokies, going 23-of-42 for 55%. Like the Hokies, they struggled from the outside (4-of-16 for 25%) and the free throw line (9-of-20 for 45%.
Jamon Gordon played a great game for Virginia Tech, leading the team in scoring with 21 points, and rebounding with nine. He also had four steals and several breakaway dunks and layups. Gordon was 9-of-16 from the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line.
Gordon’s backcourt mate, Zabian Dowdell, was the only other Hokie to score in double figures. Dowdell scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He was 2-of-5 from three-point range. He also led the team with four assists and had two steals.
Gordon and Dowdell’s fellow junior starter, Coleman Collins, was noticeably absent. Collins played 29 minutes and had just five points and three rebounds. He scored just one first half point and struggled at times on the defensive end with BC senior forward Craig Smith. With Collins nowhere to be found on the inside, Boston College out-rebounded the Hokies 33-23.
It took awhile for the Hokies to get going. Boston College scored the first five points of the game, and Tech didn’t get on the scoreboard until Deron Washington hit a layup at the 16:03 mark. But once they got going, they played well for the remainder of the half. Tech tied the game at 7-7 on a layup by Jamon Gordon, and took a 9-7 lead with 12:44 remaining on a layup by Cheick Diakite.
Boston College came back and took a 15-13 lead on a tip-in by Akida McLain, but it didn’t last. Coleman Collins hit a free throw to make the score 15-14, and at the 7:15 mark Zabian Dowdell drained a three-pointer to put the Hokies up 17-15. The lead continued to grow. Jamon Gordon hit a jumper with 6:44 remaining to put Tech up by four, and with 6:01 left in the game he scored again to give the Hokies a 21-15 lead.
Virginia Tech went on to lead by as many as eight points in the first half. Deron Washington hit a jumper to put Tech up 25-17 with 3:33 remaining, and 27-19 at the 2:33 mark following a Jamon Gordon jumper. A three-pointer by Marquez Haynes cut the lead to 27-22, but then Gordon got a steal and a breakaway dunk to push the lead back out to 29-22. That would be the score heading into halftime.
Boston College came out fired up in the second half and went on an 8-0 run to take a 30-29 lead. Craig Smith, who played just 11 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, sparked the run by scoring the first four points of the half. In a start that was very similar to the first half, the Hokies didn’t score until the 16:37 mark when Zabian Dowdell hit a three-pointer from the corner to put Tech back up 32-30.
The game remained nip and tuck until just under the ten minute mark. Jamon Gordon hit a layup to put Tech up 43-40, but then Boston College embarked on a 12-0 run that threatened to put the Hokies away for good. The run featured a number of easy baskets. All five BC field goals during the stretch were easy layups. They also hit two free throws, and with 5:49 remaining in the game, the Eagles held a 52-43 lead, and things appeared to be heading south in a hurry for the Hokies.
A.D. Vassallo quickly cut into the BC lead by hitting a three-pointer from the wing at the 5:29 mark to make the score 52-46. With 3:18 remaining, Boston College senior guard Louis Hinnant hit a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down to put the Eagles up 57-49. However that was the last field goal BC hit during the game, and Tech nearly pulled the comeback.
First Coleman Collins hit a tough jumper in the lane with 2:46 remaining to make the score 57-51. At the 1:19 mark, Jamon Gordon penetrated into the lane and found Collins for an easy dunk to cut the lead to 57-53. Those were the only field goals Collins scored the entire game.
Leading by four points and with possession, BC’s Jared Dudley threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Jamon Gordon and taken the distance for the dunk. The score was now 57-55 and the Hokies were right back in it. Tech fouled freshman guard Tyrese Rice on BC’s next possession to stop the clock, and Rice hit both free throws. With 2.8 seconds left in the game, Wyton Witherspoon hit a short jumper to cut the lead to 59-57.
The Hokies fouled Sean Marshall on the inbounds, and he went to the line with 2.3 seconds remaining. Marshall missed the first free throw, and then airballed the second, giving the Hokies an inbounds pass with no time coming off the clock. Tech threw a hail mary to Zabian Dowdell who caught it cleanly on the wing and had a decent look at the basket. However the shot was no good, and both Boston College-Virginia Tech games this season ended with Dowdell missing a potential game-winning three-pointer at the end.
With Clemson’s victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon, the Hokies will be the #10 seed in the ACC Tournament. They will play the #7 seed on Thursday night at 7pm. Their opponent will be determined following Sunday’s games featuring Maryland at UVA and Florida State at Miami.