March 8, 2009
Hokies fall to FSU in regular-season finale
By Jimmy Robertson

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State guard Toney Douglas scored 12 points during a critical stretch in the second half, and Virginia Tech couldn’t overcome its cold shooting en route to a regular-season ending 63-53 loss to the Seminoles in an ACC game played Sunday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

The loss marked Tech’s third straight and its sixth in the past seven games. The Hokies are now 17-13 overall, 7-9 in the ACC heading into the league’s tournament later this week, where they will be the No. 8 seed.

“I think we’re playing pretty well,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “We played Carolina and Duke and had chances to win those games. We had a chance to win the Florida State game [in Blacksburg] and we won at Clemson. I’m not sure we’re playing that bad.

“We miss a buzzer shot against Florida State [in Blacksburg] and we were tied with Duke and Carolina – and both might be No. 1 seeds [in the NCAA Tournament]. How bad are we? They were just better teams that night. We’ve played good teams and had a chance to win and didn’t win. That’s the reality of playing in this league. It doesn’t mean we’re a bad team. We’ve just got to get a little bit better.”

Florida State, which hasn’t lost back-to-back games this season, moved to 23-8, 10-6 in the league and clinched a first-round bye in the ACC tournament as the No. 4 seed.

Tech, which trailed by as many as 14 in a horrible first half, tried to come back in the second half. The Hokies pecked away and gradually cut the lead to three on a free throw by J.T. Thompson with 7:18 remaining that made the score 45-42.

But on Florida State’s next possession, Douglas – who had been rather quiet up to this point – drilled a 3-pointer from the wing with 7:04 left. After Tech’s Dorenzo Hudson missed a 3-pointer, Douglas came down and ended up burying two free throws with 6:37 to go that gave FSU a 50-42 lead. The Seminoles never looked back.

“We fought and scrapped and got back in the game,” Greenberg said. “We had a chance to do something. We got some open looks. We just didn’t finish them.”

Douglas, who was honored along with two other FSU seniors before the game, scored 12 of Florida State’s 14 points during a span of 4:03. He finished with a game-high 22 points, hitting 7-of-19 from the floor and all six of his free-throw attempts. He also dished out three assists.

“Every time I helped, it seemed he hit a big shot,” said Tech point guard Hank Thorns, who guarded Douglas for much of the game. “He’s a great player and that’s what great players do.”

Tech’s troubles came at the start of this one, as the Hokies hit just two of their first 16 shots and committing eight turnovers in the first 14 minutes of the game. A 12-1 Florida State run enabled the Seminoles to break open the game, a run that ended on a basket by Douglas with 5:35 remaining in the half that gave the Seminoles their biggest lead, 24-10.

The Hokies shot just 24 percent in the first half, and no one struggled to get going more than A.D. Vassallo, who came into the game leading Tech in scoring at 18.9 points per game. But the senior from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico misfired on all six of his attempts from the floor and scored just two points in the first 20 minutes.

Vassallo heated up a little in the second half, scoring 12 of his 14 points then to lead all of Tech’s scorers. He hit just 4-of-15 for the game. Malcolm Delaney added 13 points, but he hit just 4-of-12 from the floor.

As a team, the Hokies shot just 30.8 percent for the game and 25 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

“We had open looks,” Vassallo said. “We just didn’t knock them down. Shots we usually hit, today, we didn’t hit them. We were open. It wasn’t their defense. We just didn’t hit them.”

Tech now gets set to take on Miami in the ACC tournament at noon on Thursday. The Hokies beat the No. 9-seeded ’Canes earlier this season down in Coral Gables, Fla., in the only meeting between the two teams.

For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MBBall).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

HokieSports Shop