BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Virginia Tech continues to find itself in similar situations at the end of its basketball games.
This time, though, the Hokies managed to produce a different outcome.
Adam Smith scored 16 points to lead the Hokies to a 64-61 victory over The Citadel on Saturday.
Smith scored 14 of his 16 in the second half, helping the Hokies (6-4) rally from a 27-22 halftime deficit. Virginia Tech came into the game with three of its four losses by three points or less.
”We’re thankful that we won,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. ”We’ve lost three games just like this.”
The Hokies avoided defeat because, unlike in those three losses, they made the plays down the stretch. They made 4 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 37 seconds and forced The Citadel into missing five of its final six shots of the game.
With the game tied at 58, Virginia Tech’s Devin Wilson made a basket with 1:35 remaining to give the Hokies the lead for good. Virginia Tech scored five straight points to build a 63-58 lead with 17.9 seconds to go,
But The Citadel (4-6) cut it to 63-61 on a 3-pointer by C.J. Bray with 7.7 seconds left. The Hokies’ Justin Bibbs then made one of two free throws with six seconds left to give the Hokies a 64-61 lead.
With no timeouts left, The Citadel ran a side out-of-bounds play to get ball to Ashton Moore, but Bibbs got a piece of the 3-point attempt and the shot fell short as time expired.
”I saw No. 12 (Moore), and I was like, `He cannot get this shot off,”’ Bibbs said. ”I just ran to him and jumped. I knew the seconds were counting down, and he was going to put it up.”
”It (the play) was designed to get Ashton a fade screen 3-pointer,” The Citadel coach Chuck Driesell said. ”They pushed us a little off balance, but we still found him.
”I thought the last shot wasn’t a bad look considering the situation. I’ve got my best player, my best 3-pointer shooter, and he had a decent look.”
The play capped a game in which Tech rallied behind Smith, who scored Tech’s first eight points of the second half in a span of less than 90 seconds after the Hokies went the final 5:10 of the first half without scoring. Behind him, Virginia Tech opened the second half with a 20-6 run, taking a 42-33 lead on a basket by Jalen Hudson with 11:37 left. Smith scored 10 points in the run.
The Bulldogs, though, answered with a 13-2 run to get back in the game. Moore hit three 3-pointers in the run, including one with 8:46 left to put The Citadel up 46-44.
”We have to play with confidence,” Williams said. ”I think the attitude would be completely different if we had won the three prior games just like this. We’ve got to continue to work and play with a high level of energy and a high level of confidence (after getting the lead).”
Moore hit 8 of 22 from the floor for the Bulldogs, but made 7 of 15 from beyond the 3-point arc, and led all scorers with a season-high 27 points. The Bulldogs hit 13 3-pointers for the game and shot better from beyond the arc (38.2 percent; 13 of 34) than from inside of it (28.5 percent; 8 of 28).
Wilson and Joey Van Zegeren each scored 10 for the Hokies, who shot 41.8 percent from the floor (23 of 55).
The Citadel has not won a game against a team from a power conference since 1988-89. … The Citadel has lost 18 straight games on the road. … The Citadel has lost 45 straight games against teams currently in the ACC. The Bulldogs’ last win over an ACC team came in 1979 when they beat Clemson 58-56. …The Citadel has lost 41 straight road games to teams currently in the ACC. The Bulldogs haven’t won a road game over an ACC foe since 1969, a 73-72 win at Clemson.
The Hokies are 17-2 all-time against The Citadel. … Tech trailed the final 10:40 of the first half, and the Hokies didn’t score in the final 5:10 of the half. . Walk-on Christian Beyer started for the second straight game, along with former walk-on Will Johnston. … The Hokies, one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the nation (342nd nationally out of 345 teams heading into Saturday), made just 15 of 25 for the game, but 14 of 19 in the second half, including eight of their final 10 attempts.
The Citadel plays at Michigan State on Tuesday.
Virginia Tech plays at home against Virginia Military Institute on Monday.