In a game that few people were giving them a chance to win, Virginia Tech went on the road and knocked off Boston College 81-73 in overtime, denying the Eagles a share of second place in the ACC. For the second game in a row the Hokies were without Jeff Allen, but a great team effort got them the victory. Tech is now 12-8 overall and 3-3 in ACC play. The Eagles dropped to 12-6 and 3-2 in conference play.
After finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds in his first career start against Duke, freshman forward J.T. Thompson had an even better day against the Eagles. He recorded a new career high in points (14) and rebounds (12) while notching the first double-double of his career. He also came up with a critical steal and assist in overtime. It has been a banner week for Thompson, who could be a candidate for ACC Rookie of the Week honors.
Two other freshmen pitched in with double figures. Malcolm Delaney had 13 points, two assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes of action. He hit back-to-back three-pointers in the first half that were critical in building an eight point halftime lead.
Hank Thorns added 11 points, nine of which came in the overtime period. He knocked down all four of his free throws, had a breakaway layup on a steal by Thompson, and nailed a three-pointer that put the Hokies up for good. Thorns also had four assists and just two turnovers in 29 minutes. As a team, Tech had just eight turnovers. They had over 20 in each of their last two games, both losses.
There were other major contributors as well. Deron Washington finished with a team-high 19 points in 42 minutes. He also pulled down eight rebounds. A.D. Vassallo’s shot was off. He was just 5-of-16 from the field and 0-of-4 from the outside, but he still had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Cheick Diakite had a very good seven point, eight rebound performance in 21 minutes of playing time. Freshman forward Terrell Bell had three assists and no turnovers in 10 minutes. The Hokies out-rebounded BC 51-42 and held them to 37.5% shooting from the field. This was a complete team win.
Despite missing Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech dominated the game on the inside. The Hokies outscored Boston College 44-34 in the paint and dominated in second chance points 24-7. Tech grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. Overall there were 14 lead changes and nine ties. It was a tremendous ACC basketball game.
Virginia Tech got a big boost heading into halftime. Hank Thorns threw up a long three-pointer with just over two seconds left on the game clock. The ball failed to draw iron, but A.D. Vassallo came out of nowhere to grab the rebound and bank it in, just before the halftime buzzer sounded. Going into the break, the Hokies had a 41-33 lead.
Tech opened up a 10-point lead by scoring the first bucket of the second half, but the Eagles gradually chipped away at it. The lead changed hands several more times in the second half, with neither team able to wrap their arms around a victory.
Virginia Tech nearly lost the game thanks to poor free throw shooting down the stretch. Tech was just 10-of-23 from the charity stripe during regulation. They went just 2-of-4 from the free throw line down the stretch, which opened the door for Boston College, and the Eagles took advantage of it.
Freshman wing Rakim Sanders hit a tough three-pointer from the wing with 3.6 seconds in regulation, evening the score at 66. Tech couldn’t get a shot off in the final seconds, and the game went into overtime, which generally favors the home team. But not this time.
BC guard Cory Raji hit two free throws with 3:57 left in overtime to put the Eagles up 68-66. On the other end, Hank Thorns got free momentarily and nailed a big three-pointer from the wing, putting the Hokies back on top 69-68. On BC’s next possession, J.T. Thompson stripped the ball from Shamari Spears at the top of the key and pitched it ahead to Thorns, who scored on an easy breakaway layup.
Up 73-70, Thorns made a terrific pass to a cutting Deron Washington on the baseline, and Washington finished over Tyrelle Blair for the layup to make the score 75-70. BC scored on their next possession to cut the lead to 75-72, but Thorns and Malcolm Delaney combined to go 6-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to put the game away.
BC point guard Tyrese Rice was the game’s top scorer, dropping in 27 points. However, Rice didn’t score for the final 11-plus minutes of the game, including overtime. It was very similar to Tech’s win at UVA in overtime, when Sean Singletary dominated for most of the game, but disappeared down the stretch.
Virginia Tech returns home to take on the Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 pm, and the game will be televised by Regional SportsNet. Check your local listings.