ACC Basketball: Virginia Tech loses another close one, this time to Duke
DURHAM — Virginia Tech gave itself plenty of chances — both at the free-throw line and in the field — to knock off No. 5 Duke.
The Hokies kept coming up empty when it counted most, and that led to another close loss.
The Blue Devils beat Virginia Tech 70-65 in overtime on Saturday after several opportunities to win slipped away from the Hokies.
“I thought we did a lot of good things. We competed at a very high level,” said coach Seth Greenberg, his voice reduced to a near-whisper. “We just weren’t able to finish.”
Especially at the foul line.
Virginia Tech entered making an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 73 percent of their free throws, but the Hokies were 7 of 16. Meanwhile, Duke was 24 of 34 — including 6 of 8 in the final minute of OT.
“Part of the game,” Greenberg said. “Players miss free throws. It’s not just our team. All teams.”
Dorenzo Hudson, one of three players with 16 points for the Hokies (15-14, 4-10), pulled them to 64-63 with a deep jumper with 1:19 left in OT.
Mason Plumlee’s free throw with 51.1 seconds left made it a two-point game, then had a hand in Hudson’s face during his jumper that would have tied it.
After Austin Rivers’ free throw with 19.4 seconds left made it 66-63, Erick Green missed a layup, and Miles Plumlee’s free throws extended Duke’s lead to five. Green hit a layup with 2.9 seconds left before Duke’s Seth Curry hit two free throws with 0.2 seconds to play.
Green and Cadarian Raines also scored 16 points apiece for the Hokies. All of Green’s points came after halftime, giving him an ACC-best 30th straight double-figure game.
Virginia Tech had the last chance to win it in regulation, with the ball with 32 seconds left. Green dribbled out much of the clock before his 15-footer bounced off the rim with about 5 seconds left. Raines then soared in from the left side for the rebound but tossed it off the side of the rim before the buzzer sounded.
That came after Hudson banked in a 3-pointer over Curry to make it 58-55 with 1:26 left. Mason Plumlee pulled Duke within one point with a stickback with 48 seconds left, and Rivers made one of two free throws with 32 seconds left to tie it.
Rivers had 23 points and Curry added 19 for Duke (25-4, 12-2), which kept itself in control of the ACC heading into the final week of the regular season.
“Whatever reservoir we had there at the end, we were able to get through,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “This team has a really good will to win. You have some shortcomings, which all teams do, but at the end of the day, they have a will to win.”
Miles Plumlee added 15 rebounds and two free throws with 9.6 seconds left. Less than 48 hours after claiming a critical victory at No. 15 Florida State, Duke made enough plays down the stretch to win its sixth straight.
“You’re fighting human nature,” Duke forward Ryan Kelly said. “You just got a huge victory on the road; you’re just tired and fatigued. We need to get rejuvenated for next week because it’s going to be a huge week.”
Duke used its disparity in free throws to overcome 38.5 percent shooting and a 6-of-24 performance from 3-point range; they had made at least eight 3s in each of their previous seven games. The Blue Devils also built a 44-38 rebounding advantage to improve to 16-1 against the Hokies at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Dorian Finney-Smith added 15 rebounds for the Hokies, who have lost two straight and seven of 10. Their previous four games were decided by a total of five points, most recently a two-point home loss to rival Virginia.
“We fought hard,” Green said. “We played a good 45 minutes instead of one half.”
The Associated Press