On January 6, 1968, Virginia Tech beat UVA in Charlottesville in men’s basketball. Since that day, man has landed on the moon, the Soviet Union collapsed, and numerous other events have taken place. However, Virginia Tech never won another game in Charlottesville until Wednesday night, when Deron Washington’s game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded gave the Hokies a 70-69 overtime win over their in-state rivals.
This game was about resiliency. The lead changed hands 10 times, and the game was tied on seven different occasions. The Hokies trailed by as many as nine points in the second half, but as they’ve done many times this year, they fought their way out of a corner. It was the second consecutive ACC game Tech has won by one point. They beat Maryland 67-66 on Saturday.
This game was won on the defensive end. Although Sean Singletary had an amazing 34-point, 10-rebound performance, only one other UVA player scored in double figures. As a team the Hoos were 24-of-63 from the field for 38.1%. Singletary was 12-of-21 from the field, and he also hit five of UVA’s nine three-pointers.
Tech also came up big on the boards. UVA was +11.4 in rebounding margin heading into the game, but the Hokies out-rebounded the Hoos 47-39. Despite missing a lot of the first half due to foul trouble, Tech’s Jeff Allen had 11 points and eight rebounds.
A.D. Vassallo’s performance will likely get overshadowed by Deron Washington’s game-winning shot, but Vassallo came up big, finishing with 22 points and five rebounds. He was 5-of-11 from three-point range. Washington finished with 11 points, none bigger than his last second shot.
Tech also got good performances from their freshmen. Besides the aforementioned Allen, Malcolm Delaney had a solid game. He scored eight points, dished out six assists and grabbed five rebounds in 40 minutes of action. Terrell Bell scored five points, coming up with two huge shots, and J.T. Thompson had five points and three offensive rebounds in just four minutes of action.
The Hokies went with a small lineup to counter UVA’s perimeter game, but Cheick Diakite played well in limited action, grabbing five rebounds in 13 minutes.
Virginia Tech’s defense over the last nine minutes of the second half was tremendous. Things didn’t look good when UVA’s Ryan Pettinella hit two free throws with 9:47 left to make the score 59-50 UVA. Pettinella was just a 14.3% free throw shooter coming in, but he banked the first one in, and then nailed the second. It seemed like things weren’t meant to be for the Hokies.
However, UVA only managed to score four points for the remainder of regulation. Two three-pointers by A.D. Vassallo and another by Deron Washington got the Hokies back in the game, but they still found themselves trailing 63-61 when Jeff Allen was intentionally fouled by Mamadi Diane with 1:34 left in the game. Allen went to the line and calmly nailed both free throws, making the score 63-63.
Virginia Tech got the last shot in regulation. Malcolm Delaney drove the lane, and with three seconds remaining he went up with a layup, which he missed. Delaney appeared to be fouled on the play, but no whistle blew, and the game went into overtime.
Jeff Allen hit one of two free throws to open the overtime period. That put the Hokies up 64-63, but suddenly the Hoos found themselves offensively and ripped off six straight points to go up 69-64 with 3:34 remaining.
Virginia Tech gradually chipped away at the lead. A.D. Vassallo and Malcolm Delaney each earned trips to the line and combined to make 2-of-4 free throw attempts, cutting the lead to 69-66. Vassallo later went back to the line and nailed two free throws, making the score 69-68 with exactly two minutes left in the overtime period.
UVA couldn’t manage any points in their final two possessions. A Sean Singletary layup attempt was rejected by Deron Washington, and later Calvin Baker’s baseline jumper missed with 48 seconds remaining. The Hokies got the rebound, but it seemed that even if they made a shot, UVA would get the ball last and be able to go for the win. However, that’s not how it worked out.
Deron Washington’s three-point attempt with 14 seconds remaining missed, and the ball went out of bounds to the Hokies. Tech inbounded, and again the ball was knocked out of bounds, this time with four seconds left. The Hokies retained possession, with four seconds remaining, down by one.
Virginia Tech inbounded from in front of their own bench. Deron Washington took the pass at the top of the key, and made a move with a left hand dribble down the left side of the lane. Washington went up for a running layup, and as time expired, the shot went down, handing UVA their first-ever ACC loss in the John Paul Jones Arena.
The Hokies improved to 11-6 overall and 2-1 in the ACC with the win. UVA dropped to 10-5 and 0-2 in conference play. The Hokies have now won five of their last six games. A YouTube.com clip of Deron Washington’s game-winning shot can be found below. It will be replaced tomorrow with a link to the box score.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday, when they take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Tip-off is scheduled for 1pm, and the game will be televised by Raycom Spots.