BLACKSBURG, Va. — It wasn’t the first time forward Dorian Finney-Smith had been involved with a close finish this year. But as he recalled the tip-in that gave Virginia Tech a thrilling 66-65 come-from-behind victory over Boston College on Sunday night, the freshman said it all felt like slow motion.
Finney-Smith smiled as he recalled how point guard Erick Green forced the Eagles’ defense to collapse, only to leave him with “a wide-open lane” for an offensive rebound on the deciding possession. Then classmate Robert Brown’s three-pointer sailed through the air with less than four seconds remaining, clanged off the rim and fell toward Finney-Smith’s waiting hands.
“Oh yeah. I got this,” he said of his thoughts at that moment. “I ain’t letting this one go.”
So with 2.4 seconds left on the clock, Finney-Smith put the finishing touches on a morale-boosting win when he gently tapped Brown’s miss through the hoop. After Boston College’s Lonnie Jackson missed a desperation half-court heave at the buzzer, Finney-Smith was asked whether it was strength or quickness that led to his basket.
“God,” he replied, a smile on his face after finishing with a career-high 17 points and eight rebounds. “Thank God.”
These were the sorts of emotions at play Sunday night in a battle for ninth place in the ACC. And following a listless performance in a 16-point loss at Miami Thursday night, it was a welcome change when the Hokies (14-11, 3-7) came through late to avoid their worst start through 10 conference games since joining the ACC in 2004.
Finney-Smith was particularly clutch in the waning moments. He scored seven of the team’s final nine points, including a three-point-play on a putback with 26 seconds left and the Hokies trailing by four. The Hokies are 9-0 this year when Finney-Smith scores in double figures.
Senior Dorenzo Hudson added 11 points, all of which came during a five-minute sequence late in the second half when Boston College had taken a 51-44 lead. Forward Ryan Anderson scored 17 points and Jackson chipped in 14 for Boston College (8-17, 3-8).
“Our guys could have cashed it in a number of different times,” Coach Seth Greenberg said. “They grew up a little bit tonight, I think.”
Greenberg began the game with a new starting lineup for the third time in five games; he had told his players in practice that the five hardest workers would get the nod. Hudson was re-inserted into the lineup and freshman C.J. Barksdale received his first career start — and later left the game with an ankle injury — relegating sophomore Jarell Eddie to the bench for the first time all season.
It did little to remedy the Hokies’ penchant for slow starts as they found themselves in a hole for much of the opening half. But Virginia Tech got back into the game with some superior play down low.
The Hokies outrebounded Boston College, 33-19, and finished with 18 offensive rebounds.
None, though, provided more relief than the last one.
“It’s about time,” Hudson said of Finney-Smith’s game winner. “It feels like all our games have come down to a couple seconds, so it feels real good to get one of those.”