The Hokies got a much-needed win for their NCAA Tournament Resume, capturing an 80-78 victory over #12 Virginia in a double OT thriller.
Redshirt-senior guard Seth Allen scored a team-high 20 points, including a game-winning floater with 3.1 seconds left in double-overtime, as the Hokies somehow, some way, grinded their way to an 80-78 win in a thriller at Cassell Coliseum.
For the second consecutive season, the Hokies found a way to upset their in-state rivals at home, but unlike last year’s tilt, this game may prove pivotal in the NCAA Tournament chances for Buzz Williams’ squad.
This game was ANYTHING but easy for the Hokies, as an up-and-down first half of runs and scoring droughts ended with the Cavaliers pulling no punches. Tony Bennett’s squad went on a timely 13-0 run before the half to take a 37-23 lead into the locker room.
But much like the first half of action, the Hokies were not done yet. Thanks to some timely threes by Seth Allen, Justin Robinson, and Justin Bibbs, the Hokies were able to crawl back into the game in the second half, as they trailed by just two, 45-43, at the under-12 minute media timeout.
The crowd never relented from there on in, with the exception of one moment with about seven minutes to go in regulation. On a drive to the basket in a layup attempt, Chris Clarke landed awkwardly on his left knee and had to be helped to the locker room by the training staff. While he returned to the bench with ice on his injured leg, he would not return to the game.
Down, but not out, was certainly the theme of the night for the Hokies, as even with the loss of Clarke, they continued to find a way to grind out points on offense. Allen had a hot first half in which he made three of his four three-point attempts, but had a stretch late in the second half where he really struggled knocking down jump shots.
However, Justin Bibbs came swooping in to save the day. He hit a clutch three from the corner on a bank-shot with 1:50 to play to give the Hokies a two-point lead, and Cassell was rocking. Coming out of a timeout, the Cavaliers successfully fouled out Virginia Tech’s best big man, senior forward Zach LeDay, on what seemed like would be a knockout blow to the team’s depth in a game as tight as this one was throughout the second half.
The confidence never seemed to waiver, even with the Cavaliers leading by two with 16 seconds to play. After a missed free throw by Virginia guard Ty Jerome that would have made it a three point advantage for the ‘Hoos, Hokies guard Seth Allen drove the lane on the other end and missed a contested layup. Luckily for the Blacksburg faithful in attendance, the ‘Hoos forgot to box out on the weak-side of the play, allowing Ty Outlaw a free run at the rim for a game-tying tip-in to send the game to overtime.
From there, insanity ensued. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth the game continued to go. The offenses continued trading buckets on both ends of the floor in the first overtime, but with the game tied at 68 after a Justin Bibbs three, Perrantes drove to the basket looking for the go-ahead layup to sink the Hokies.
However, in a bizarre turn of events, the ball somehow got stuck on the heel on the rim, leading to a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing to Virginia Tech. Buzz Williams called a timeout to draw up a potential game-winning play for his team following the strange play on the other end, but the deep three by Seth Allen as time expired proved unsuccessful. With the miss, it was on to the second overtime. It was the first time that a game in this series had gone to double overtime since 1976.
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In the second overtime, it was more traded baskets and key stops defensively for both teams, as Justin Bibbs hit a couple of crucial threes to keep the Hokies afloat in the second extra session. After Virginia’s Devon Hall hit a layup with less than 20 seconds remaining to tie the game at 78, it was once again up to the offense of the Hokies to try to win the game in the final possession.
This time, unlike in the first overtime, Buzz Williams’ squad was out of timeouts, leading to pure heat of the moment execution in the waning seconds. Seth Allen beat his man to the basket, hit a floater with 3.1 seconds to play to give the Hokies the lead at 80-78, and following the failed miracle half-court attempt to win the game by London Perrantes, the students stormed the court at Cassell as the Hokies picked up their biggest win of the season.
The victory gives the Hokies their second RPI Top 50 victory, and improves the team record to 17-7 on the season, and back to an even .500 record in the ACC at 6-6. There is no time for the team to rest on their laurels, as the Hokies will hop on a plane and head to Pittsburgh to battle the Panthers on Tuesday evening.
It is unlikely that the Hokies will have the services of Chris Clarke in the upcoming match-up given his knee injury, but will reportedly have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the damage and his status moving forward. Stay with Fighting Gobbler for the latest developments on that story ahead of the Tuesday tilt with the Panthers.