Virginia Tech dropped a heartbreaker to #20 Florida State on Thursday night, falling 48-47 in Tallahassee. The Hokies are now 14-12 on the season, and 3-8 in league play. FSU improved to 18-7 overall and 9-2 in the ACC.
Free throw shooting helped Virginia Tech gain a 15 point lead in the second half, and then it cost them the game down the stretch. FSU was just 1-of-8 from the free throw line during the game. Tech went 7-of-16 from the line, including critical misses down the stretch from Erick Green, Dorenzo Hudson, Jarell Eddie and Robert Brown. Bad free throw shooting from both teams was a surprise, as both schools entered the game as two of the best free throw shooting squads in the ACC.
In the final two minutes of the game, Erick Green missed the front end of a one-and-one, Dorenzo Hudson missed both of his free throw attempts, the normally reliable Jarell Eddie missed a free throws, and Robert Brown missed two attempts with 10.2 seconds left that would have iced the game. After Brown’s misses, Michael Snaer nailed a three-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining, and Erick Green’s last second three-point attempt barely missed at the buzzer.
The Hokies went into this game with just seven scholarship players, facing a fully healthy FSU team that featured six seniors. C.J. Barksdale was out with a sprained ankle, while Victor Davila was nursing a groin injury suffered in practice this week. That left Tech with just one healthy post player – Cadarian Raines. To make matters worse, Raines exited the game with 10 minutes remaining with a bad case of cramps, leaving Tech to play their 2-3 zone (which they used the entire game) with three guards and two small forwards.
At that point Florida State started to dominate in the paint, but the Hokies still could have won if not for poor free throw shooting down the stretch. Jarell Eddie made three of his four free throw attempts in the final two minutes, but didn’t have an opportunity to close the game. With 10.2 seconds remaining he was fouled by Florida State, getting pushed to the ground. The normally reliable Eddie, an 86% free throw shooter, did not get up. Like Raines, he was down with cramps and had to be helped off the floor.
Eddie was supposed to be at the line, but NCAA rules indicate that the opposing coach gets to pick the free throw shooter when a player goes out with an injury, and FSU’s Leonard Hamilton picked freshman guard Robert Brown, who was 22-of-34 from the line at that point. Brown promptly missed both free throws, FSU drove the length of the court, and Michael Snaer made a tough game-winning three-pointer from the right elbow.
The Hokies were down 25-23 at halftime, but went on a 17-0 run to open the second half and take a 40-25 lead. However, it obviously wasn’t enough.
Erick Green paced the Hokies with 18 points,four steals and three assists. Jarell Eddie added 11 points and seven rebounds before going down with cramps. Florida State had just one player in double figures – Ian Miller with 11.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday when they host Georgia Tech in Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 3pm, and the game will be televised by RSN. Check your local listings.