Virginia Tech suffered a tough 81-79 setback in overtime at the hands of Northwestern in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday night. The Hokies dropped to 4-3 with the loss, while the Wildcats improved to 6-1.
The Hokies continued to do the things they had been doing well. They outrebounded Northwestern 42-36, and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. Coming into the game, Tech was #22 nationally in rebounding rate and #12 in offensive rebound percentage, so those trends continued.
Tech was also #1 in the country in free throws attempted per game, and they had attempted more free throws than their opponent in every single game this year. That trend continued tonight as well…
VT: 18-of-23 (78.3%)
NU: 7-of-11 (63.6%)
Unfortunately, Tech’s trend of playing poor defense also continued, and that led to their eventual loss.
“I think a couple of times we went under screens, and they just stepped behind and popped them,” Seth Allen said after the game.
The Hokies were able to get back into the game in the second half because of improved defensive play. Northwestern shot just 40.5% from the field for the final 20 minutes of regulation.
“Our mentality was different on both ends of the floor in the second half,” Buzz Williams said.
The Hokies rallied from nine points down at halftime thanks to some impressive performances…
Seth Allen: 25 points, 7-of-15, 4-of-8 3pt., 7-8 FT
Chris Clarke: 11 points, 13 rebounds (second straight double-double)
Justin Bibbs: 17 points, 7-of-11, 3-of-5 3pt.
Tech got off to a great start in overtime, taking a 77-73 lead thanks to two baskets by Jalen Hudson and Satchel Pierce. Unfortunately, their defense came apart down the stretch again.
With the game tied at 79, Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh got by Devin Wilson on a drive, and Satchel Pierce was late with his help defense, and the result was a game-winning layup with 27 seconds left. Chris Clarke had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but his open jumper from near the baseline was barely off.
Buzz Williams was visibly upset after the game as he walked off the court, and he was unusually short with the media following the game. He normally gives long-winded answers, but he kept his answers short.
Was it emotional for him to face former Hokie Joey van Zegeren (4 points, 2 rebounds, 14 minutes)?
Why does the team keep getting off to bad offensive starts?
Why did he seem more upset than usual after a loss?
“We just lost a two-point game in overtime at home on national television. Were you there?’
Williams obviously considered Northwestern to be a big game, and he was upset with his team’s defensive performance.
Nevertheless, the team has made major strides this year in other areas, which I’ll detail in a TSL Pass article tomorrow.
Virginia Tech returns to action this Saturday at 3pm when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The game can be seen online on ESPN3.