The Virginia Tech men's basketball team fell in overtime Tuesday night in a hard-fought contest in Tallahassee. Nickeil Alexander-Walker's 19 points were not enough to lift the Hokies to a victory.
Both teams came out firing as five of the first eight made baskets in the game were three pointers. Ahmed Hill's deep triple gave the Hokies a 12-11 lead at the first media timeout of the opening half.
Coming out of the timeout, Virginia Tech caught fire. Great ball movement led to easy buckets, and another three pointer by Ahmed Hill capped off an 11-2 run to give the Hokies a 23-13 lead with 8:59 left in the first half.
Virginia Tech continued this momentum throughout the rest of the half. Despite the fact that their shooting cooled off a bit, the Hokies' defense made every look that Florida State got a contested one. Virginia Tech took a comfortable 33-19 lead into the break.
In the second half, Florida State quickly put together a 12-2 run of their own to cut the deficit to four. The Hokies answered with back to back pull up jumpers by Alexander-Walker and Bede to seemingly weather the storm.
However, the Seminoles were not done yet. MJ Walker nailed a contested three on the next possession, and after Blackshear made two free throws, Phil Cofer made another triple for Florida State.
By the 10:51 mark of the second half, Florida State had outscored the Hokies 27-8 since the break, and they led by five. That run was aided by two questionable calls against Virginia Tech big man Kerry Blackshear, Jr. that forced him to the bench.
For the next five minutes or so, the teams seemed to just trade baskets each possession. That is, until a three pointer by Florida State, a turnover by Ahmed Hill, and another easy transition layup by the Seminoles stretched their lead six.
Ty Outlaw answered with a three to make it a one possession game again at 57-54. Virginia Tech got a defensive stop on the other end, and the Hokies got the rebound. That's when the most controversial call of the game took place.
The referee whistled for a foul, which the Hokies assumed was going against Florida State. Instead, he called Kerry Blackshear for an infraction as he was going up for the rebound. It was the fifth foul called against him, though three of them were questionable at best. Visibly upset, Blackshear was escorted to the bench, where he was forced to remain for the rest of the game.
Even without their leading scorer of the past two months, the Hokies continued to fight. With 27 seconds left in the game, they got the ball down 61-58 with a chance to tie.
Virginia Tech could not seem to get anything going on that possession. With about 12 seconds remaining on the shot clock, Ahmed Hill let go a three with a hand in his face. It caught nothing but net, and the game was tied at 61.
Florida State called a timeout, but the Hokies defense held a strong. The Seminoles missed a contested three at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
Unfortunately, the lack of Blackshear became very apparent in the extra frame. Virginia Tech was forced to take contested jump shots, and they had no answer in the paint on defense.
The Hokies tried to force the ball down low a couple of times, but without their big man, they had no success. MJ Walker knocked down a triple to give Florida State a 67-62 lead with 1:10 to go, and that pretty much sealed the deal.
Virginia Tech was only able to muster three points in the entire overtime period. In the end, Florida State outscored the Hokies 12-3 in those five minutes and walked away with the 73-64 win.
Key Stat - Virginia Tech Commits 14 Turnovers
The Hokies had 14 total turnovers in Tuesday's contest compared to just seven for Florida State. To make matters worse, it seemed that these giveaways continually came at the most inopportune times.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Ahmed Hill, and Kerry Blackshear Jr. each committed 4 turnovers in the game. Without Robinson, those three players are the leaders of this team. Their inability to protect the ball cost the Hokies in the end.
Virginia Tech will conclude the regular season on Friday against Miami. Tip-off is set for 7 pm inside Cassell for Senior Night.
Photo Credit: Bobby Murray