Virginia Tech fell Thursday in OT 65-63 to Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Kerry Blackshear's 17 points and 9 rebounds were not enough to keep the Hokies in the tournament.
Both teams started incredibly slowly on offense. Both Virginia Tech and Florida State scored just 4 points apiece in the first 4:49 of the game.
Soon, though, the Seminoles got going. Florida State went on a 13-0 run to take a 17-4 with 12:03 left in the first half.
Despite the fact that Virginia Tech struggled mightily from beyond the arc in the first 20-plus minutes, they continued to fight hard. The Hokies answered with a 13-2 run of their own to make it 19-17.
A few minutes later, a three-point play by Nickeil Alexander-Walker tied the game at 24 with 1:17 left in the first half. Two more free throws from Florida State were the only other points in the half, and the Seminoles took a 26-24 lead into the break.
Virginia Tech went on another cold streak to start the second half. The Hokies missed their first 8 field goal attempts, and 2 more missed threes gave them an 0-12 mark for the game.
Despite that fact, Virginia Tech's defense kept them in the game. Even though the Hokies went 5:31 of game time without scoring, Florida State only lead by 8. Finally, a dunk by Ahmed Hill seemed to wake the Hokies up.
Virginia Tech followed that up with a 3-pointer from Kerry Blackshear to pull within three with 13:41 to go in regulation. That was the Hokies' first made triple of the game.
Just as the Hokies got going, Florida State seemed to find their stride on offense as well. They hit three pointers on two of their next three possessions, but Ahmed Hill answered with another 3 for the Hokies.
Just like in the last contest between these two teams, they seemed to trade buckets for a large part of the second half. Florida State went back and forth between leading by 3 and 5 points for a good 6 minutes.
After a layup by Ahmed Hill, a defensive stop for Virginia Tech, and a foul by Florida State, Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a chance to give the Hokies their first lead of the game with 4:06 left in regulation. He made the first free throw but missed the second to leave the game tied at 48.
The Hokies had a couple of chances to take the lead, but they came up empty. It was not until back to back buckets in the lane by Blackshear that Virginia Tech had their first lead of the game at 54-53 with 1:17 to go.
The Hokies followed that up with a great defensive stop that gave them a chance to stretch the lead. With 19 seconds left in the second half, Kerry Blackshear got hacked in the lane and still made the basket. He could have made it a two possession game with the ensuing free throw.
Instead, he clanged it off the back iron. Florida State jacked up a contested three and missed, but Nickeil Alexander-Walker knocked the ball out-of-bounds under the basket with 6 seconds left.
The Seminoles in-bounded the ball to Devin Vassell, who was well guarded by Isaiah Wilkins in the left corner. Vassell drained it over Wilkins anyway to tie the game at 56.
Blackshear's half court heave did not fall, and the game was headed to overtime yet again.
The two teams traded stops to start overtime, and then they traded layups. Another stop by the Hokies and a pull-up jumper by Alexander-Walker gave Tech a 60-58 lead with 2:40 left in the extra frame.
Kabengele got into the lane on the other end and tied the game again at 60. Alexander-Walker took matters into his own hands with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Virginia Tech a three-point lead yet again.
However, Florida State had a response. Phil Cofer jacked up an ill-advised three early in the shot clock for Florida State but the best way to make a bad shot one that gets overlooked in terms of quality is to make it, which is what Cofer did. Overall, the Seminoles had an answer for every single thing the Hokies threw at them.
Empty possessions by both teams gave the Hokies a chance to hold for the last shot with the game tied at 63. Instead, Alexander-Walker tried to force a drive with 13 seconds left and missed the contested layup.
Florida State got the ball on a runout, and Terrance Mann was intent on taking the last shot. He threw a one handed baseline jumper towards the rim as he fell to the ground, and it somehow went in after bouncing off every inch of the iron. Florida State led 65-63 with 1.8 seconds left.
Ahmed Hill delivered a nice pass to give Alexander-Walker a good look from a bit shorter than half-court, but he missed it to the left. Florida State held on for the thrilling 65-63 victory and beat Virginia Tech in overtime for the second time in 9 days.
Key Stat - Hokies Go Just 7-13 From the Line
Virginia Tech made just 53.8% of their free throws in the contest, including an abysmal 3-9 mark in the second half. On a stat sheet full of shocking numbers, that one just might be the most disappointing for Virginia Tech.
Kerry Blackshear's missed free throw is easy to point to at the end of regulation, but the truth is any of those 6 misses could have helped the Hokies win in regulation. While it can be tempting to point to Florida State's fortune at the end of the game, the Hokies would never have been in that position if they had simply knocked down the free ones in the second half.
Virginia Tech falls out of the ACC Tournament with the loss, and Florida State will advance to play Virginia on Friday. The Hokies now await their fate for the NCAA Tournament, as their seed will be unveiled this Sunday with VT likely to receive no worse than a 5 seed, their highest seed this century.
Photo Credit: Bobby Murray
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