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Virginia Tech vs. Boston College: Hokies waste chance to score a key road win

By Mark Giannotto
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 6, 2011; D05

CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. - There was no need for Virginia Tech senior Malcolm Delaney to explain just how his team came up short in Saturday's 58-56 loss at Boston College. All one had to do was look at him as he trudged off the Silvio O. Conte Forum floor.

With his head down, hands on top of his head in disbelief and a blank stare on his face, Delaney had already begun recounting the should-have-been scenarios that ultimately cost Virginia Tech in one of its few remaining chances to upgrade its NCAA tournament resume.

The Hokies (15-7, 5-4 ACC) wasted a historic performance from Jeff Allen. They committed just six turnovers and for a second straight game a thin front court badly outrebounded the opposition on the offensive glass.

But the best free throw shooter in program history - Delaney - missed the front end of a one-and-one with a chance to tie the score with 24 seconds remaining.

And when their breakout player of this season, sophomore Erick Green, got a wide-open look from three-point range with less than four seconds remaining, it clanked off the rim.

"I'm pretty sure [Coach Seth Greenberg] couldn't have drawn up a play to get a wide-open shot like that at the end of the game," Delaney said of the potential game-winning shot. Green "will bounce back next game. All of us have to bounce back. Jeff played a great game, but the rest of the team has to bounce back."

If not for Allen's play, the Hokies could have been blown out. The Washington native had a season-high 25 points and 19 rebounds, which tied the highest single-game total in the ACC this season and set a Virginia Tech record for rebounds in an ACC game. He also collected his 1,000th career rebound.

Aside from Allen, though, the rest of the Hokies shot a combined 10 of 39 from the field. Green, who had scored in double figures in all but one of the 13 games he had started this season, had a miserable afternoon.

He finished with no field goals and a season-low one point. Delaney (19 points on 6-of-17 shooting) had just two points at halftime.

Even though the Hokies "couldn't make a shot to save our lives," according to Delaney, and trailed by 10 points in the first half, they entered halftime down by just three. Allen, meanwhile, had his fourth consecutive double-double, and 11th this year, before the second half had begun.

"It was just using my quickness," Allen said. "I knew that [defenders were] not gonna be able to stay in front of me so I can make my move. And if they helped, I hit the open person."

In the second half, though, the Hokies' defense let them down in critical moments. When Virginia Tech took its first lead of the game with 17 minutes remaining, the Eagles responded with a 7-0 run.

Then, as Delaney began to heat up late - sinking two rainbow three-pointers over 6-foot-10 Josh Southern and 6-8 Joe Trapani to cap off a 17-point second half - the Hokies allowed Boston College's leading scorer, senior Reggie Jackson, to get going.

After being held scoreless for the first 29 minutes, Jackson scored all 10 of his points in the final 11 minutes 7 seconds. More important, each time Delaney hit a big shot, Jackson responded with a basket for the Eagles (15-8, 5-4). It was these sorts of lapses that had Greenberg most upset. For the game, Trapani led Boston College with 14 points and nine rebounds.

"Obviously on paper it's gonna look like it came down to the last play," Greenberg said. "But it came down to our ability to guard the basketball down at the end of the game. We didn't have the sense of urgency and the energy that you need to have to win on the road."

That fact weighed heavily on the Hokies afterward. Virginia Tech is 1-9 at Conte Forum, and won't have another opportunity to score a win away from home against an RPI top 50 opponent until the ACC tournament.

And now, with their next game not until next Sunday, the Hokies have plenty of time to stew over a loss that might end up costing them come Selection Sunday.

"We did it to ourselves," said Delaney, shaking his head. "It wasn't nothing - the coaches prepared us well. We had everything right. We had chances to win. Every time we got the lead or tied the game up, we couldn't get the stop. It was a road win we could have got."

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