BLACKSBURG, Va. — Four days ago, Virginia Tech guard Erick Green said he regretted not taking the last shot when the game was on the line at Wake Forest. On Tuesday night, he didn’t make the mistake again.
But when the final buzzer sounded, the ending was eerily similar. For the second straight game, the Hokies started off slowly and watched a last-minute shot rim off the back iron. This time the result was a 63-59 loss to Florida State at Cassell Coliseum, a defeat that dropped Virginia Tech to 0-2 in ACC play for the first time since 2005-06.
That year, Virginia Tech finished the conference season with a 4-12 record, and with games against No. 3 North Carolina, No. 8 Duke and No. 16 Virginia looming, all the talk afterwards was about how these young Hokies can turn it around quickly and avoid a similar fate.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, we’re gonna win a lot of games. We won’t be the only team that’s pretty good that starts the season 0-2,” Coach Seth Greenberg said. “I’m disappointed, for sure, but I’m not discouraged. I see a lot of opportunity for growth.”
It must start on the offensive end, where Virginia Tech once again got a strong performance from Green, but little else from any of its other scorers. The junior point guard was the only Hokies player to finish in double figures, scoring a game-high 21 points. All but two came after halftime when he almost single-handedly willed the Hokies to a win that seemed entirely unlikely after a putrid shooting performance in the first half.
With Virginia Tech down by seven and just more than three minutes remaining in the game, Green scored the Hokies next eight points, including two free throws with a minute left to make the score, 61-59, in Florida State’s favor.
Seminoles guard Ian Miller then missed a wild three-pointer, and Green had a chance to tie the game or take the lead with 18 seconds on the clock. Out of a timeout, he maneuvered his way into the lane and got an open look from about 10 feet out. But his ensuing floater glanced off the back rim with five seconds left and Florida State was able to ice the game at the free throw line.
It didn’t help that while Green made his late surge, Seminoles forward Bernard James was imposing his will on the offensive glass. The 6-9 senior finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds, including two put-back dunks in the waning moments, that stymied the Hokies’ momentum a bit.
“We’re a little bit young, maybe not as tough as we need to be, but I like our team,” Greenberg said. “I thought we were resilient, [but] we’ve got to get more guys contributing.”
That the Hokies even had a chance to pull off a win Tuesday was surprising given how bad Virginia Tech’s offense looked in the first half. The Hokies made just six of their 32 shots (18.8 percent) and Florida State blocked 10 shots, part of a record night that saw the Seminoles swat 15 shots total. Virginia Tech’s only saving grace was Florida State’s 18 turnovers.
But it mattered little to Green as he pounded the floor in frustration after his last-ditch effort came up short. He thought it was going to bounce in to send the game to overtime. All he could do now was try to look at the bright side of things.
“If we can learn to put two halves together, we’re gonna be a great team,” he said in a somber locker room. “It’s early in the season. We’ll learn from this.”