Hokies roar back from 10 down, steal Cavs hearts, 76-71

Story by Chris Graham

Everything is right with the world. Virginia is up 10 with 3:02 to go at home against its in-state ACC rival. One stop and one basket, maybe two, and the game is over, you’re 4-1 in the ACC, and who knows what happens from there?

Here’s what happened from there: a 13-0 Virginia Tech run, a miraculous three that forced overtime, then a dominant OT period from a Hokies team that left the John Paul Jones Arena with an almost inexpicable 76-71 victory.

“Once we got some stops and out in transition – put the ball in a couple times, you get some confidence. Once you get confidence, then you try and get the ball inside a little bit. Then a great trust amongst all of them developed during the course of the game and they started defending harder,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said by way of trying to offer explanation.

Virginia Tech (16-3, 3-2 ACC) turned two magical turnarounds, using an 18-5 run to reverse a 12-point first-half deficit into a 28-27 lead into the halftime break. Virginia responded in the second half with a 17-2 run that gave the Cavs a 44-34 lead that they were able to maintain in the eight- to ten-point range until the final minutes.

Up 62-52 with 3:02 to go, a pair of Malcolm Delaney free throws were followed by a Delaney backcourt steal and layup that made it 62-56 with 2:43 left.

The turnover and conversion seemed to be the tipping point for the turn of the game. The Hokies took the lead at 63-62 in the final minute on a runner in the lane by J.T. Thompson. Delaney, who led all scorers with 27 points, hit two more free throws following a Sylven Landesberg miss, setting up the final sequence of regulation, which ended with Zeglinski, who had been 0-for-4 from the field to that point in the game, hitting a 25-foot three with 1.9 seconds left to send the game to an extra period.

Tech controlled the overtime period, outscoring the ‘Hoos 11-6. But it was the final three minutes of regulation that will linger with UVa. coach Tony Bennett and his squad.

“We left a guy unguarded in transition, two turnovers and the out of bound plays, fouling Delaney — there were just some things where I thought our execution and just making some sound decisions hurt us,” Bennett said.

“There were a lot of points scored in the game, and we were ready for the knockout punch, but they kept fighting back. You can’t sleep on a team like that,” said Landesberg, who scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field.

Mike Scott led Virginia (12-6, 3-2 ACC) with 21 points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.


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