Hokies squander double-digit leads
blacksburg, va. — Virginia Tech squandered several double digit leads, and a scrappy Wake Forest squad battled back to beat the Hokies, 89-84, on Saturday afternoon.
Bryant Crawford (Gonzaga) led the Demon Deacons (18-12, 9-9 ACC) with 26 points, and Austin Arians added 15. Five players scored in double figures for Wake Forest.
“I thought we got contributions from a lot of different guys,” Wake Forest Coach Danny Manning said.
On senior day, senior Zach LeDay scored 24 points with 10 rebounds for Virginia Tech (21-9, 10-8). Fellow senior Seth Allen added 20.
“We’re not invincible; anyone can be beaten on any given day. We need to know that. We’ve been in so many close games,” LeDay said.
After outshooting Wake Forest by a 2-1 ratio early, the Hokies hit a flat spot midway through the first half before catching a second wind. A Virginia Tech lead that had been whittled to three swelled to 11 with five minutes left in the first half. But Wake Forest battled back again to cut its deficit to 47-42 at the break.
Wake Forest forward John Collins came into the contest having scored 20 points or more in 12 straight contests, the longest ACC streak in three years. But he picked up three fouls before halftime and was scoreless in the first half.
Collins warmed up after the break with 13 points that helped the Demon Deacons claw back for the victory.
“We just put the next man up,” Manning said. “Offensively I thought the ball moved a lot better in the second half.”
The Deacons shot 21 of their 33 free throw attempts in the second half.
“There was a stretch where they called about like five [fouls] in a row,” Allen said. “The free throw difference was a really big key.”
Said Hokies Coach Buzz Williams: “I didn’t think we played with the heightened level of energy that we have to play with.”
Wake Forest attacked the interior more in the second half to earn the comeback win.
Virginia Tech shot 51.7 percent for the game.
The loss at sold-out Cassell Coliseum prevented Virginia Tech from reaching 11 conference wins for the first time since it joined the ACC in the 2004-05 season. Present to watch the season-ending loss was retired football coach Frank Beamer.
Coming in after upsetting eighth-ranked Louisville on Wednesday, the Demon Deacons likely needed the win to keep alive any hope of earning an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
Both teams turn their attention to the ACC tournament.
The Hokies head to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn having earned a first-round bye, with their first opponent yet to be determined. Virginia Tech is the No. 7 seed.
Wake Forest will be a No. 10 or No. 11 seed. The Hokies and Demon Deacons will match up again if Wake beats Boston College in the opening round. Williams thinks this may be one of the best ACC tournaments ever. “It’s easy to be a fan of this league,” he said.