BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP)—Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg says the proof of his team’s development came at the end of regulation, after his No. 23 Hokies had blown an eight-point lead.
With 10 seconds to play and the ball, Maryland got a jumper from James Gist in the corner, and it missed. Virginia Tech never gave the Terps a second chance, outscoring them 8-5 in overtime and improving to 10-0 at home this season with a 67-64 victory.
“To be able to get a stop there at the end of the game, those are things we were unable to do a year ago,” Greenberg said Sunday night. “We didn’t have the ability.”
They do now, as well as a dynamic guard tandem in Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon, numerous role players, and an increasing presence in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Dowdell scored four of his 19 points in overtime, Gordon had two of his 16 and made a big defensive play, and the Hokies rallied after blowing a big lead in regulation.
It helped that on a wintry night when students were let in free, 9,847 fans showed up to see the Hokies rebound from a disappointing midweek loss at Florida State.
“That win was all about—and I really believe it—that was the students’ win,” Greenberg said. “Because 2,500 people, inclement weather, we don’t win that game.”
The Hokies (14-5, 4-1), who let a 58-50 lead disappear in the final 6 minutes when they managed just one more point, went ahead to stay on two free throws by Gordon with 3:08 left, then padded their lead on Dowdell’s putback with 2:11 to play.
Coleman Collins added 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Hokies.
Maryland (15-5, 1-4) lost for the second time in five days in Virginia. The Terps were beaten 103-91 at Virginia on Tuesday night, then scored just one point in a 4-minute stretch of overtime after closing regulation with an 11-3 run to tie the game.
In the extra period, they missed 3 of 4 shots from the field.
“You have to make shots. We didn’t make shots,” said coach Gary Williams, whose team was also soundly beaten on the backboards, 47-40, for the second straight game.
At Virginia, the Cavaliers had a 48-36 edge.
Even so, Williams said the young Terps are making strides.
“If we continue to play the way we played tonight, we’ll be fine,” he said.
D.J. Strawberry led Maryland with 16 points, and Mike Jones and Greivis Vasquez had 12 each. Vasquez, a cocky freshman, was jeered every time he touched the ball after taunting student fans, many of whom took advantage of the free admission with an ID.
“For them to battle this inclement weather says something,” Greenberg said.
The Hokies, who joined the Top 25 for the first time in more than a decade after an eight-day stretch that included victories at Duke and at home against North Carolina, led 58-50 after Collins scored inside with 6:24 left.
However, a three-point play by Vasquez, a putback by Ekene Ibekwe, and then a drive and two free throws by Strawberry gave the Terrapins a 59-58 advantage with 1:45 left.
Collins tied it when he made the second of two free throws with 59 seconds left, then blocked a shot by Vasquez with 42 seconds remaining. A jumper by Gordon went in and out for the Hokies with 12 seconds to play, and Gist’s attempt at the buzzer missed.
In the extra period, Jones scored right away for the Terps, but Dowdell scored on a drive, Gordon hit a pair of free throws, and Dowdell then made a steal and scored on a rebound of Gordon’s miss, giving the Hokies a 65-61 advantage with 2:11 remaining.
After Ibekwe made a free throw for the Terps, Collins tipped in a miss by Gordon with 1:11 left, and two free throws by Strawberry finished the scoring.
The Terps had the ball with 12 seconds to play, but Jones drove to the basket and missed, Markus Sailes rebounded and Tech held on.