Bad First Half Leads to Hokie Loss in Atlanta

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Virginia Tech got down late in the first half, rallied to tie the game in the second half, but ultimately fell to Georgia Tech 81-70 in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. The loss drops the Hokies to 11-7 overall and 2-2 in ACC play, and they now get to face Duke at home on Thursday night before traveling to Boston College next Saturday. The Blue Devils and Eagles are undefeated in ACC play.

The story of this game was Georgia Tech’s journeyman point guard Matt Causey. Causey began his career at Georgetown, then transferred to North Georgia before finally setting in Atlanta. Coming into Saturday’s game, he was averaging 16.9 minutes and 5.1 points per game. Against the Hokies, he was on fire, scoring 30 points on 7-of-12 shooting from three-point range.

A.D. Vassallo, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, had a tough day. He finished with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds, but he was 0-of-5 from three-point range and had seven turnovers. As a team, the Hokies had 24 turnovers.

Deron Washington had 15 points and eight rebounds, but he was just 3-of-11 from the field. He was 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Malcolm Delaney was a bright spot for Virginia Tech offensively. He finished with 13 points and was a perfect 3-of-3 from the outside.

Jeff Allen had 13 points and six rebounds in just 24 minutes before fouling out. As he walked off the court after fouling out, he brushed against an official and was ejected. Whether or not it was intentional is up for interpretation, but an ejection from a game carries with it a suspension from the ACC, generally for one or two games. Two years ago, Deron Washington was suspended for one game after lightly kicking Duke’s Lee Melchionni in the face.

This was a good game for most of the first half, until Jeff Allen picked up his second foul with approximately eight minutes remaining. The Yellow Jackets led just 22-18 with 8:56 remaining, so their run down the stretch directly coincided with Allen getting in foul trouble. The Yellow Jackets took a 39-23 lead into halftime, Seth Greenberg had already been hit with a technical, and things weren’t looking good for the visitors.

The Hokies obviously got a motivational speech at halftime, because they played much better in the second half. VT began the half by going on a 13-0 run. Sandwiched between two Malcolm Delaney three-pointers was a highlight reel dunk by Deron Washington. Just like that the Hokies had the momentum, and trailed just 39-36.

Virginia Tech kept chipping away, and they finally managed to tie the game at 55 when Delaney nailed another three-pointer with 8:27 left in the game. However, they couldn’t quite get over the hump and take the lead.

Jeff Allen was hit with his fifth personal foul with 4:32 left in the game, and as he walked off the court, he brushed against the official, which resulted in a technical foul. The Hokies trailed 67-60 at that point, and if the last two games taught us anything, it was still anybody’s game. However, the technical sent Anthony Morrow to the line for two free throws, and the original foul on Allen gave Jeremis Smith two free throws. The Jackets converted three of the four attempts from the line, giving them a 70-60 lead that the Hokies couldn’t overcome.

The Yellow Jackets hit 12 of their last 14 free throw attempts. Before that, they were just 7-of-17. Their ability to hit free throws down the stretch was a big reason they were able to close out the game.

Virginia Tech returns to action on Thursday night when they take on the Duke Blue Devils in Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

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