Hokies hit free throws, tame Tigers 82-81


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – Virginia Tech hit 16 of 17 free throws, many of them late, and held off Clemson 82-81 Sunday evening at Littlejohn Coliseum, the sixth consecutive loss in ACC play for Clemson.

The Hokies (15-4 overall, 4-3 ACC) got 17 points from Seth Allen and 16 from Zach LeDay. Clemson (11-8, 1-6) got 20 points each from Jaron Blossomgame and Avry Holmes, while Donte Grantham added 15 in a losing effort.

"Just a little bit more of the same for us. I thought our team played really well offensively again," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell. "We’ve done that here at home quite a bit. We scored 81 points, shot a great percentage and had 22 assisted baskets. We made 13 threes and only had nine turnovers...just about everything you would want offensively. It felt like the Virginia game, because defensively, we aren’t getting enough stops."

The Tigers had chances late in the game to take the lead, but couldn’t hit the big shot at the right time, and the Hokies were able to hit all six free throws in the final 21 seconds to secure the win.

The teams were close from the outset, with Virginia Tech holding the Tigers at bay for entire first half. However, the Hokes went on a 5-0 run over a 76-second span late in the first half, taking their biggest lead at 41-34 with just over two minutes to play in the opening frame.

Clemson answered with a layup and free throw by Holmes with 51 seconds to play, and a missed 3-pointer by the Hokies led to a 3-pointer by Marcquise Reed with four seconds left and Tech took a 41-40 lead into the break.

The first eight minutes of the second half saw the Tigers grab several offensive rebounds, but couldn’t overtake the Hokies despite back-to-back 3-pointers by Blossomgame. With just under minutes to play, the Hokes still held a one-point lead at 55-54.

The teams traded 3-pointers coming out of the timeout; then Tech hit a runner in the lane to take a 60-57 lead. Grantham hit a 3-pointer from the left wing tied the score at 60-60, and a turnover turned into a dunk by Blossomgame for a 62-60 Clemson lead with 10:09 to play.

Shot selection killed Clemson over the next two minutes, however, and Tech went on an 8-0 run to take a 68-62 lead with 7:50 to play in the game.

The Tigers were able to chip away at the lead, with a dunk by Blossomgame making it 70-69 with just over four minutes to play. The Tigers had three consecutive chances to take the lead but misfired each time, and Tech was able to grab a 73-69 lead with 1:41 to play in the contest.

Blossomgame grabbed a Gabe DeVoe miss and put it back to make it 73-71 with 52.7 seconds remaining, and Brownell called a timeout to set up the final minute.

The Hokies got a big 3-pointer from Seth Allen coming out of the timeout, but Holmes hit a jumper nine seconds later, and the Hokies held a 76-73 lead with just 22.1 seconds left on the clock. Clemson fouled LeDay after the inbounds pass, and he hit both to make it 78-73 with 21.3 seconds remaining. Mitchell hit a scoop shot on the other end that made it 78-75, and DeVoe fouled out with 12.8 seconds remaining to send the Hokies to the line.

The Hokies hit both free throws, but Blossomgame hit a 3-pointer on the other end that made it 80-78 with just eight seconds to play. Virginia Tech once again hit both free throws, and a 3-pointer by Holmes at the buzzer accounted for the final points.

"I really believe it’s that our players’ ‘want to’ has got to get all the way there. It’s close, and there’s a little bit of frustration, and there’s a little bit of fatigue...mental fatigue," Brownell said. "We’re just at that point where, for the first time, we’re not quite where we need to be, both mentally and physically. The losing has probably taken a toll the last couple of weeks...it’s been hard, especially with the way it’s happened in most of the games. They’ve been a little bit gut-wrenching...four of the six have been gut-wrenching. That takes a toll on you, and that’s why you’ve got to dust yourself off and stay with it. We’re going to turn it around when my guys want to turn it around. We’re talented enough to turn it around, and we just have to understand that mistakes that we make in the seventh and 13th and 23rd and 29th and 31st minute have to be corrected, so we don’t put ourselves in a position to allow them to make a big shot to beat us.”


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