The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will live to fight another day.
After a hectic, back-and-forth game against the Clemson Tigers on Thursday night, the Hokies walked away victorious, winning 68-63.
“I’m just really proud of these guys,” said Seth Greenberg, head coach. “The resiliency they showed…I talked to them all week about finishing and making one more play. One more stop, one more 50-50 ball. Take a charge, make an extra pass, just one more play. That’s kind of the thing that’s eluded us this season.”
Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson led the way for Tech, as they scored 24 and 19 points, respectively. They were also a combined 12-for-12 from the free throw line, a stat that proved crucial down the stretch.
“(Hudson and Green), by far were the heartbeat and the pulse of our team tonight,” Greenberg said. “The leadership they showed, and the resiliency they showed, and the belief they showed in each other and their teammates was really fun to watch.
“We showed that toughness that is Virginia Tech basketball and when you have that, you find a way to win one of these games.”
The Hokies have had their fair share of struggles from the stripe on the year, including a 7-of-16 performance against Duke on Feb. 25 and a 1-of-6 effort in the final minute against Florida State on Feb. 16.
But they had no such troubles on Thursday, hitting 16-of-19 from the line as a team, led by Green’s 8-of-8.
“We stepped up on the line and made the free throws,” Greenberg said. “It’s a great credit to these guys their resiliency, it really is. To play so many close games and still come to practice everyday.”
Green and Hudson were the only two players that saw action for the Hokies that had previously played in an ACC Tournament game. That experience helped them out down the stretch.
“We’re roommates, so we talk a lot about it coming down to the end,” Green said of himself and Hudson. “We both stepped to the line and made good plays, and the leadership we showed tonight.
“I’m just proud of my team, the coaches that we hung in there and dug down deep. We finished, and that was the main thing tonight, we finished. Hopefully we can get it going for tomorrow.”
As Greenberg pointed out after the game, 13 of the team’s 17 league games have been decided by five or fewer points. His players are used to playing in close games, and Thursday night was no different.
“We had nine game come down to two or fewer points,” Hudson said. “Coming into the tournament, everything is going to come down to one play. We’re just trying to stick with it and move forward.”
Tech will advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face the Duke Blue Devils for the third time this season.
The team got off to a hot start, as Hudson scored 10 of the team’s first 16 points to give them a 16-11 lead just over eight minutes into the game.
But the Tigers would claw their way back into it, going on a 14-3 run to end the half and take a 35-30 lead into the locker room.
Andre Young led the way for Clemson in the first half, totaling 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. However, he was held at bay by Green in the second half, scoring just two points while shooting 0-for-4 from the field.
Jarrell Eddie scored just five points on the night, but they all came in a 50-second span early in the second half that helped the Hokies retake the lead.