For the second time this season, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team lost on a last-second shot, as Wisconsin’s Trevon Hughes hit a short jumper with less than a second remaining to lift the Badgers past the Hokies 74-72 in a non-conference game played as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Monday night at Cassell Coliseum.
With the loss, the Hokies – who lost in overtime to Xavier on a last-second halfcourt heave on Nov. 21st – fell to 4-3 overall on the season. Wisconsin, ranked No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, moved to 6-1 on the year.
The Hokies trailed by nine, 67-58, after Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry drained his fourth 3-point attempt of the game with 1:13 remaining. But behind the unconscious shooting of A.D. Vassallo, the Hokies scrambled back.
Vassallo cut Wisconsin’s lead to 70-69 by hitting a 3-pointer with 17.9 seconds to go. Jason Bohannon’s two free throws with 11.6 seconds remaining gave the Badgers a 72-69 lead, but Vassallo struck again, hitting a 3-pointer with seven ticks left to tie the game at 72 – the Hokies’ first tie since the 13:24 mark of the first half.
But Hughes quickly pushed the ball up the court and got to the free-throw line. He lofted a short jumper that hit nothing but net with nine-tenths of a second remaining. Tech, with no timeouts, threw the ball in to Dorenzo Hudson, but Hudson’s halfcourt shot came up well short.
“He’s a lead guard and that’s what he’s supposed to do,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said of Hughes. “He gets it [the ball] and he pushes it. He can make a play. That’s his job.”
“The guy [Hughes] drove it right down our throats,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “We’ve got to stop the ball. He drove it at the rim and made a good shot, and we didn’t contain him."
The loss offset a huge game by Vassallo, the Hokies’ senior perimeter star. He scored 24 of his career-high 30 points in the second half. His previous career high of 29 came against Wake Forest in January of 2006. Against the Badgers, he hit 12-of-17 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists.
“If it wasn’t for my teammates getting me the ball in the right places, I couldn’t score the ball, “ Vassallo said. “They did a great job of screening and getting me the ball, and I just did the rest.”
“He was in the zone and we wanted to get him as many shots as possible,” Greenberg said. “Every time he shot it, we thought it was going in.”
Victor Davila added 13 points and three rebounds for the Hokies, while Malcolm Delaney chipped in 12 points. Tech shot 50 percent from the floor and hit 11 3-pointers in the game.
Landry led the Badgers with 18 points, hitting 6-of-7 from the floor, including all four of his 3-point attempts. He went into the game having hit just five the entire season.
Jon Leuer added 17 points for Wisconsin, while Hughes finished with 12 and Bohannon had 11. Bohannon hit three 3-pointers, and Wisconsin, as a team, drained 12 treys out of 18 attempts.
Tech will attempt to rebound in its next game, which is on Sunday afternoon. The Hokies will take on Navy in the BB&T Classic held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The game is slated to tip off at 5 p.m.
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