Virginia Tech overcame yet another second half deficit as the Hokies rallied to knock off UVA in overtime 72-65. It was Tech’s second overtime win of the year against the Hoos, and their third overall. This marks the first time since the 1968-69 season that the Hokies have beaten UVA twice in the same season. Tech improved to 14-8 overall and 5-3 in the ACC with the win, and they still sit all alone at third place in the conference standings.
Despite an ugly offensive performance, Tech’s defense kept them in the game as it has done all season. UVA shot just 35.8% from the field and make just 19 field goals. They were just 2-of-11 in overtime. The Hokies also out-rebounded the Hoos 43-33. Tech has out-rebounded their opponent in every ACC game so far.
Deron Washington led the Hokies with 15 points and 12 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season. His follow-up dunk off a missed shot with 14 seconds remaining in regulation put Tech up 54-52, but Sean Singletary followed it up with two free throws to send the game to overtime.
A.D. Vassallo played just 27 minutes because of foul trouble, but he made a major difference when he was on the court, finishing with 14 points. He was 3-of-5 from three-point range. Vassallo had been in a slump, but over the last two games he is 7-of-13 from the outside.
Once again the Hokies got some major contributions from their freshmen. Jeff Allen finished with 12 points and six rebounds, while Malcolm Delaney also had 10 points. J.T. Thompson did not start this game, but came off the bench to score six points, grab seven rebounds and block two shots.
Hank Thorns also came through with some big plays in overtime for the second consecutive Saturday. He made a couple of great passes that led to Tech dunks in overtime, and also took the ball coast to coast to get himself a layup at one point. He only finished with five points, but he had four assists and played a good all-around game.
Tech also got production from an unexpected source. Lewis Witcher came off the bench to score 10 points and grab four rebounds. All four rebounds were on the offensive end. He gave the Hokies energy and production, and he was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
Virginia Tech didn’t exactly come out firing on all cylinders on offense. Tech led 11-9 with 14:13 left in the first half, but after that UVA went on a big run. The Hoos outscored Tech 14-0 in the next stretch, taking a 23-11 lead on a Jamil Tucker layup with 8:45 left in the half.
Tech went over seven minutes without scoring, but Witcher gave them the spark they needed when he pulled down an offensive rebound and scored at the 7:03 mark to make the score 23-13. That got the Hokies started on a run of their own.
Tech ended the half on a 14-3 run that was capped with an offensive rebound and layup by J.T. Thompson with six seconds left in the half. UVA scored just three points, a three-pointer from Sean Singletary, after Tucker’s layup with 8:45 remaining. The game was even early, then UVA went on a big run, and then the Hokies countered with a big run of their own. The result was a 26-25 lead for the Hoos at halftime.
The Hokies got off to a great start in the second half. A.D. Vassallo drained a three-pointer to put Tech up 28-26, and then J.T. Thompson hit a jumper to make it 30-26. After a Mike Scott free throw, Deron Washington fed Jeff Allen down low, and Allen went up with a one-handed dunk to give Tech a 32-27 lead. It was an excellent start to the second half.
However, the run didn’t last. The Hokies went on another scoreless streak. Allen’s dunk came with 17:22 remaining in the half, and Tech didn’t score again until the 11:08 mark. By that point the Hoos had taken a 38-32 lead. Again it was Lewis Witcher providing the spark, grabbing another offensive rebound and putting it back for the easy two to cut the lead to four.
Tech hung around, but UVA kept the game under control for most of the half. A Ryan Pettinella layup put the Hoos up 48-41 with 5:58 left, and they still led 50-44 after two Mike Scott free throws with 4:39 left on the clock.
The Hokies buckled down defensively however, and UVA could only manage four more points the rest of the way. Three Deron Washington free throws and a dunk by Lewis Witcher cut the lead to 50-49 with 2:42 left. After a UVA turnover, the Hokies got the ball back and A.D. Vassallo nailed a three-pointer with 1:35 left to put Tech up 52-50. It was Tech’s first lead since they led 32-29 with 16:55 left in the second half.
UVA responded when Mamadi Diane hit a running layup to tie the game at 52 with 1:19 remaining. Both teams were scoreless for a little over a minute, until Deron Washington followed up a miss by A.D. Vassallo with a huge one-handed jam with 14 seconds remaining. That put Tech up 54-52.
The Hoos used a timeout, and they put the ball in Sean Singletary’s hands, which is generally a wise decision. Singletary drove the lane and was fouled hard. He nailed both free throws, evening the score at 54 all.
Tech had one more chance, but a runner on the wing from Hank Thorns was off, and J.T. Thompson missed a point-blank tip-in. This one was heading to overtime.
Regulation was played at a very slow pace, and UVA seemed content to play at that same pace in overtime. The Hokies on the other hand, decided to take the ball and use their athleticism by running up the court. It worked.
Jeff Allen started the scoring with a layup with 3:47 remaining, and the Hokies got the ball out in transition on their next possession, with A.D. Vassallo throwing down a big one-handed dunk to put his team up 58-54 with 3:11 remaining. Singletary answered on the other end with a layup, but Tech pushed it up the court again with Malcolm Delaney drawing a foul and hitting both free throws. With 2:56 left in overtime, Tech led 60-56.
The next two Tech possessions belonged to Hank Thorns. Thorns first spotted Jeff Allen open on the baseline, fired a bullet to him, and Allen finished with a big dunk. After a UVA miss, Deron Washington rebounded and got it to Thorns, who pushed it up the court for a layup, leaving UVA defenders in his wake. Just like that it was 64-56 with 1:41 left in the game.
From there, it was all free throws for the Hokies. Sean Singletary tried to keep the Hoos in the game by scoring 10 of their 11 points in overtime, but their one-man show wasn’t enough in the end. Tech won 72-65.
Tech has now won three games in a row, six of their last eight, and eight of their last 11. They return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Raleigh to take on NC State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.