Another day, another close loss. Virginia Tech had the ball for the final shot, but failed to take advantage in a 58-56 loss at Clemson on Thursday night. The Hokies dropped to 15-15 on the season, with a 4-11 mark in ACC play. Clemson improved to 16-13, with an 8-7 record in league play.
Trailing by two on their final possession, the Hokies called a timeout to set up a final play. Erick Green drove to the basket from the right wing and had a decent look, but he spotted Cadarian Raines driving down the lane. Green hit Raines with the pass, the shot was blocked, but Raines was fouled by Milton Jennings, sending him to the free throw line.
Raines, who had another terrific game with 12 points and 8 rebounds, is only a 55% free throw shooter for the season. He missed the first shot, and after a timeout by Clemson, he missed the second attempt intentionally to try to give his teammates a chance for an offensive rebound tip-in. Clemson senior Tanner Smith, playing his last collegiate home game, came up with the rebound and ran out the clock.
Jarell Eddie led Tech with 15 points, while Dorenzo Hudson added 11 points and five rebounds. However, Erick Green finished with just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. He didn’t get to the free throw line the entire game, and neither did Dorenzo Hudson. With the absence of their two most consistent free throw shooters from the charity stripe, the Hokies couldn’t manufacture enough points to win.
The loss spoiled an 8-of-16 effor from three-point range for Tech. Coming into the game, the Hokies were #2 in the ACC in three-point shooting in conference games, and they did nothing but improve that stat against the Tigers.
However, once Clemson aggressively extended their defense past the three-point line, and with Erick Green having an off night, the Hokies didn’t have enough players who could beat defenders off the dribble and manufacture points. The Tigers were more successful at getting the ball inside, going to the free throw line 25 times, while Tech attempted just 11 free throws.
Overall, it’s not too surprising that Clemson beat the Hokies at home on their senior night, with four seniors and two juniors facing four freshmen and two sophomores. Tech senior forward Victor Davila missed yet another game with a groin injury, and the Hokies’ interior defense continued to struggle with him out of the lineup.
The Hokies will have a chance to end the regular season on a high note. They host NC State on Sunday night at 6pm, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.