West Virginia 72, Virginia Tech 69
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, 2/14/01

USA Today box score

Blacksburg, VA -- Three close calls in the last minute that all went WVU's way, plus a technical foul against Tech coach Ricky Stokes with 5.5 seconds to go, helped send Tech to their fourth heart breaking loss to WVU in the last four years.

Tech was behind in this game 65-58 with 3:47 to go, but the Hokies came back to close it to 67-65 on a jumper by Joe Hamilton with 44 seconds left to go. On the inbounds play by WVU, Tech guard Brian Chase was whistled for a blocking foul against WVU's Tim Lyles on a close call along the sideline.

With 41 seconds to go, Lyles hit both free throws to make it 69-65. After WVU's Calvin Bowman blocked a shot by Tech's Carlos Dixon, Dixon fouled him, and Bowman hit one of two free throws to make it 70-65 with 22 seconds to go.

Joe Hamilton hit a three-pointer for Tech to close it back to 70-68 with 16 seconds to go, and then another close call went against Tech. WVU inbounded the ball, and Tech's Danny Gathings, who appeared to be set, was called for a blocking foul right in front of the Tech bench with 13 seconds to go.

WVU's Jay Hewitt made just one of his two free throws, giving the Hokies life at 71-68. Hamilton drove to the middle for Tech and was fouled on the shot with 7.6 seconds to go. Hamilton made the first free throw to cut the lead to 71-69, but he missed the second.

Hamilton sliced into traffic and grabbed the rebound on the baseline. He was bumped out of bounds by WVU's Josh Yeager with 5.5 seconds to go. The trailing official blew his whistle and signaled a foul, but the baseline official overruled him and called Hamilton out of bounds with no foul.

It was the third straight close call to go against the Hokies, and Tech coach Ricky Stokes lost his cool. He was called for a technical foul, giving WVU two foul shots and the ball, with a 71-69 lead.

Lyles hit a free throw on the technical foul, making it 72-69. On the WVU inbounds, he was fouled by Chase with 4.1 seconds to go and missed both, giving the Hokies one last shot. Tech's Carlos Dixon was unable to advance the ball very far past half court, and his long three-pointer at the buzzer missed, giving WVU the three-point victory.

Tech got balanced scoring, putting four players in double figures. Chase led the Hokies with 12 (going just 2-9 from three-point range), Hamilton had 11, and Mibindo Dong and Carlos Dixon each had 10. The Hokies were led in rebounding by Hamilton, Bryant Matthews and Carlton Carter, who all had 6 boards.

It was WVU's fourth straight close win over Tech. In 1997-98, the Mountaineers won 55-52 in Blacksburg, then eked out a 69-68 win in Morgantown in 1998-99. Last year, WVU went on a 20-8 run to beat Tech in Blacksburg, 61-58.

The four calls that went against Tech in the last minute (two charges, no foul call on Hamilton's out of bounds, and the technical on Stokes) negated one of Tech's better efforts in recent weeks. The Hokies hustled well, limited their turnovers (they only had 15 for the game), and outrebounded the bigger Mountaineers 38-34.

Tech outdid the Mountaineers in many statistical categories, including offensive rebounds (17-12), points off turnovers (28-26), fast break points (15-6), and bench scoring (17-15).

But Tech's zone defense, in particular their zone press, was eaten alive by WVU's inside tandem of Bowman (20 points, 8 rebounds) and Chris Moss (22 points, 8 rebounds). Moss and Bowman shot a combined 15-19 from the field and 12-19 from the free throw line.

WVU outshot Tech from the field, 53% (26-49) to 42% (26-62). The Hokies were whistled for 24 fouls to only 15 for WVU, resulting in a free throw deficit for Tech. WVU went 18-32 from the line, and Tech took only 15 three throws, making 10.

The Hokies came out strong and took a 14-6 lead, but the game started to seesaw after that. WVU scored 8 straight to tie it 14-14, then Tech scored 8 straight to go up 22-14. The Mountaineers reeled off 13 straight to take a 27-22 lead, but Tech was able to come back and take a 34-33 lead into half time.

Tech came out cold and flat in the second half, though, and WVU went on a 20-9 run to take a 53-43 lead with 11:34 to go. The Hokies stabilized and were able to hang around, leaving them in position for their late run that failed to bring home the win.

The Hokies are now 8-15 overall, 2-10 in the Big East, and have lost 8 of their last 9 games. Their next game is Saturday at noon, against Connecticut in Blacksburg.


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