Hokies Lose Defensive Battle at Florida State

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Tallahassee, FL – Virginia Tech trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, nearly rallied to take the lead in the second, but ultimately fell to #25 Florida State 63-58 on Saturday evening. The Hokies are now 13-3 overall, with a 1-2 mark in the ACC. FSU is 14-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play. Virginia Tech has not won in Tallahassee since 1990.

Florida State was a tough matchup for the Hokies because of their size on the inside. The Noles have a 7-1 center in Soloman Alabi, and their small forward is Chris Singleton, a long-armed 6-9 wing who is taller than any of Tech’s inside players. It’s tough to get good shots against FSU, who leads the nation in field goal percentage defense.

As expected, Tech’s post players struggled to score against FSU. The Noles blocked nine shots, including five by Singleton and two by Alabi. Jeff Allen had just three points on 1-of-4 shooting, and his only field goal was a three-pointer. Victor Davila and J.T. Thompson combined to score just five points and were 2-of-12 from the field. Davila did have a game-high nine rebounds, including four offensive boards, but he couldn’t get much going offensively against FSU’s size on the inside.

As a team, Virginia Tech shot just 19-of-55 (34.5%) from the field. They did go 9-of-22 (40.9%) from three-point range, including three big outside shots in the final minute of the game to cut the FSU lead from 10 down to one.

Free throw shooting was Tech’s undoing. The Hokies were only 11-of-21 (52.4%) from the charity stripe. Even Malcolm Delaney missed four free throws, including two on one trip to the line, though the Hokies managed to get an offensive rebound and hit a three-pointer to make up for them. Victor Davila was 0-of-2, J.T. Thompson was 1-of-4, and the Hokies missed two front ends of one-and-one situations.

Tech actually outrebounded Florida State 34-29, despite the Noles’ size advantage. But the shorter Hokies just couldn’t finish over the taller FSU team on the offensive end. They did hold FSU to 40.9% from the field and 23.5% from three-point range, and Tech also forced 23 turnovers.

It was a great defensive effort for the Hokies, who played a 2-3 zone for much of the game, but they couldn’t get enough accomplished offensively to come away with the win. Malcolm Delaney paced the team with 23 points on 6-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-7 from three-point range. Dorenzo Hudson had 19 points and was 7-of-15 from the field, with a 3-of-6 mark from the outside. However, no one else on the team scored more than five points.

This game looked like a blowout early in favor of the home team. The Hokies scored on their first possession, with Terrell Bell muscling in a shot in the lane, but that was their only bucket in the first 5:50 of the game. Florida State led by as many as 14 points in the first half, going up 25-11 with just 5:46 left in the first half. The Hokies didn’t score from the 10:56 mark to the 4:57 mark, and that allowed the Noles to slowly extend their lead.

Tech was able to cut into that lead over the final five minutes, and went into the break trailing only 32-25. They had to fight for every point against such a strong defensive team, but they put themselves in a position to have a chance in the second half.

However, scoring was a problem yet again to begin the second half. Tech scored just three points in the first seven minutes of the half, and FSU held a 40-30 lead. Then the Hokies went on a run and had a chance to tie the game, or even take the lead.

Tech ran off a quick 10-2 run over the next few minutes, and two free throws by Malcolm Delaney at the 10:11 mark cut the FSU lead to 42-40. Soloman Alabi answered with a hook shot to put his team back up 44-40, but the Hokies quickly cut the lead back to two points on a fastbreak dunk by Dorenzo Hudson with 8:54 remaining.

FSU responded by turning the ball over on their next possession, and Dorenzo Hudson got a good look from the left wing for a three-pointer that would have given the Hokies the lead. However, Hudson was too strong and airballed the shot. The Hokies got another steal on FSU’s next possession, and had a three-on-one opportunity to tie the game. Yet another mistake cost them. An up-court pass to Hudson was too short, and he had to reach down to try and catch it, and ended up kicking the ball out of bounds.

Florida State took advantage of their good luck by extending their lead back to 10, and they led 57-47 with under a minute left. Dorenzo Hudson broke away for a layup to cut the lead to 57-49 with 37 seconds left, but it didn’t look like the Hokies had much of a chance. However, they had one more rally in them.

After FSU turned the ball over, Terrell Bell hit a three-pointer to make the score 57-52 with 25 seconds left. The Hokies promptly fouled freshman wing Michael Snaer, who missed one of two free throws, and the Noles led 58-52 with 20 seconds remaining. Tech pushed it up court quickly, and this time it was Dorenzo Hudson who hit a three to make the score 58-55 with 12 seconds left.

Derwin Kitchen then went to the line for Florida State, and he missed one of his two free throw attempts. The Noles were keeping the Hokies in the game down the stretch with bad free throw shooting and turnovers, and Tech nearly took advantage. Malcolm Delaney followed up the Kitchen trip to the line with a three-pointer, and just like that the Hokies trailed just 59-58 with four seconds left.

The Hokies fouled Michael Snaer on the inbounds, and he went to the line with 2.9 seconds remaining. This time he made both free throws, and the Hokies had to inbound from under their own basket with only 2.9 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, trailing 61-58.

Jeff Allen inbounded, and he had Victor Davila wide open near halfcourt. It would have been an easy catch for Davila, who would have still had time to get the ball to a guard, preferably Malcolm Delaney, for a last second three-point attempt. However, Allen elected to try the hail mary down the court, but it was intercepted by Deividas Dulkys, who was promptly fouled. Hit hit both free throws, and the Hokies lost 63-58.

Virginia Tech returns to action on Monday night when they host North Carolina Central, who is 0-15 on the season against Division I competition. Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm.

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