Virginia Tech Survives Clemson, Keeps Tournament Hopes Alive In 76-75 Overtime Victory

Virginia Tech Survives Clemson, Keeps Tournament Hopes Alive In 76-75 Overtime Victory
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

Andy Loce | @Andy_Loce15

TLP: Writer
Mar 09, 2022

In a city where anything is possible, Darius Maddox made it happen.

With the Hokies’ season on the line, the sophomore guard stepped into a deep triple with the clock winding down.

Swish.

Maddox drilled the shot from the left wing, giving Tech the 76-75 win, and preserving its postseason aspirations after seeing its NCAA Tournament hopes flash before its eyes.

“He does it every other week,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said. “He did it like two weeks ago, so it's old hat for him.”

In a night where Maddox’s three-pointer will never be forgotten, it wouldn’t have been made possible without another impressive showing from the bench.

Maddox, along with David N’Guessan and Sean Pedulla, who recorded nine and six points, respectively, combined for 23 points on the night, making a difference yet again in a pivotal matchup for the Hokies.

“We know we're in a game where being aggressive is the most effective,” Maddox said. “Sitting down isn't the easiest thing to come in and make plays. We're in the game and try to affect the game in as many ways as possible.”

This scenario at one point seemed far-fetched from reality. The Hokies came out firing away from all parts of the floor. Hence the 62.5% shooting and 6-for-8 from three in the first half.

Storm Murphy led the charge for the Hokies with a perfect 4-for-4 start from deep while the offense only committed four turnovers in the opening half.

“I definitely started feeling those emotions and whatever that sensation is with the tournament,'' Murphy said. “I've appreciated it, and just happy to get out of here with a win.”

It sometimes isn’t easy for a team to play against the same opponent in the span of five days, but the Hokies seemed to have figured out Clemson’s formula. And well into the second half, it certainly looked like the Hokies had a date for the quarterfinal round.

But that all changed when the Tigers gained a sense of urgency facing a double figure deficit with seven minutes to go, eventually translating to some of the best basketball Clemson has played all season long.

10 second half turnovers for the Hokies, though, certainly contributed to the cause.

“We got a little goofy,” Young said. “We got outside of ourselves a little bit. To Clemson's credit, they certainly stiffened up on us and took a couple of things away that were working in the first half.”

Knotted up at 66 apiece at the end of regulation, it seemed as if the nerves had started to settle in with a cold start shooting wise at the beginning of the overtime period. Then, Keve Aluma took over, scoring Tech’s first six points in the final five minutes of play.

The All-ACC Second Team member once again had an impactful night on the floor, recording a double-double by tallying 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Hokies in both categories.

At the end of the day, though, the Hokies survived and advanced. Exactly what they needed to do. A loss to the Tigers would’ve most likely ended their NCAA Tournament aspirations, but with No. 2 seed Notre Dame awaiting tomorrow, the dream of qualifying for the field of 68 is as alive as ever.

The two programs have only faced once this season, with the Hokies taking down the Fighting Irish, 79-73, in their first conference win of the season back in Blacksburg on Jan. 15.

Tip-off between the two is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.