The Hokies played their hearts out but came up short as ACC POY Tyler Hansbrough hit a 12-foot baseline jumper with 0:00:8 left to break a tie and give unc the win. I honestly have never seen the Hokies fight harder in any game. I won’t say Tech played perfectly, but they did an amazing job and nearly avenged a 39-point loss exactly four weeks ago at unc.
Tech led almost the entire game, jumping out to eight point leads in the first and second halves. In fact, the heels’ biggest lead was three points at 5-2 early in the game. VT went up 59-52 with 6:18 to go on an incredible inbounds pass/alley-oop dunk by Deron Washington, but the Hokies struggled to score down the stretch. Deron fouled out with 1:29 to go.
Neither team shot very well, with both teams shooting 40%. Jeff Allen had 9 points and 11 rebounds but shot just 3/9 from the floor. Even A.D. Vassallo was 6/19 from the field, including 1/8 on threes. That’s one of the reasons I say Tech didn’t play a perfect game.
Hansbrough led unc with 26 points, but had just 10 in the second half. The Hokies did a much better job of frustrating him in the second stanza. Wayne Ellington also hurt the Hokies with 15 points, including three clutch three-pointers.
The Hokies, who were outrebounded by 30 in the first meeting, held their own in the first half, but got dominated on the glass in the second half. For the game, the heels outrebounded Tech 39-30. And had A.D. been able to grab Lawson’s miss with 3 seconds left, the game would have gone to overtime. Instead, the ball bounced right off Vassallo’s hands under the hoop to Hansbrough, who hit the 12-foot jumper over Hank Thorns.
Malcolm Delaney had another terrific game. After scoring 15 points on 4/5 three point shooting against miami yesterday, he had 15 again today on 2/3 long range shooting and 5/6 from the floor overall. He took great strides forward in this tournament. He could be the next Zabian Dowdell.
On defense, the Hokies got beat off the dribble too much. The heels were able to take it at the hoop way too much, and got most of their points this way.
This is a devastating loss for the Hokies, but may have been enough to propel them into the NCAA Tournament. They finished in the Top Four in the ACC regular season and in the ACC Tournament. They also proved they can play the #1 team in the country all the way to the buzzer. Now, we just have to sit back and wait for a day and see if the NCAA Tournament Committee agrees. Either way, the Hokies made us all proud today, showcasing how resilient this team is and what they are capable of.