ATLANTA – Virginia Tech’s Robert Brown scored 16 points, but the Hokies couldn’t overcome No. 6 Duke, falling 60-56 in a cold-shooting ACC Tournament quarterfinal affair Friday night at Philips Arena.
With the loss, the Hokies dropped to 16-17 on the season and fell to 3-4 in ACC Tournament quarterfinal games and 6-8 overall in the ACC Tournament. Duke, which took three games from the Hokies this season and has won eight of the past nine meetings with Tech, moved to 27-5, advancing to the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the Miami-Florida State game on Friday night.
The game marked the 11th loss this season by five points or less for the Hokies.
“I think that hopefully it’s a great learning experience,” Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said. “How do you learn to make good decisions? You make some bad ones. If you learn from those, then I think that when you’re put in that same position the next time, you’ll be ready to seize that moment. That’s hopefully what we’re going to learn from this season.”
The Hokies trailed 31-29 after a 3-pointer by Erick Green to open the second half. But Tech went ice cold from the floor, hitting just two field goals over nearly a 15-minute span. In fact, a Dorenzo Hudson jumper and a Green basket were the only field goals Tech made before Robert Brown scored back-to-back baskets, the later coming with 4:22 left to make the score 50-44.
The Hokies cut the lead to 55-51 on a basket by Brown with 1:08 remaining. Brown got fouled on the play, but missed the free throw, leaving the deficit at 4.
After Tyler Thornton missed a 3-pointer for Duke, the Hokies came down with a chance to cut the lead even more. But Green missed a contested jumper in the lane with 21 seconds left, and the ball bounced toward halfcourt, where Austin Rivers picked it up, scored and was fouled with 15.1 seconds left. He made the free throw to give Duke a 58-51 lead and essentially put the game away.
Brown and Green both scored 16 points for the Hokies. Brown hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from beyond the 3-point arc. But the rest of the team shot 10 of 44 from the floor, and Green connected on just 3 of 16. The Hokies shot 30.2 percent – a season worst.
“I don’t know,” Green said when asked why the team shot so poorly. “I’m not going to use fatigue as an excuse. Not at all. We were fresh. We were excited to play. It just wasn’t our night.”
“We didn’t have that one run,” Greenberg said. “We were never comfortable offensively. We didn’t get anything in transition. We never got that one run. We had opportunities. We only had 10 turnovers, but we had costly turnovers, and we had too many empty possessions.
“If you shorten the game like we tried to do, then you can’t have empty possessions. We never had that one run. We got consecutive stops, but we couldn’t get consecutive scores.”
Rivers scored 17 points to pace the Blue Devils, who only shot 37 percent themselves. Thornton added 13 points, while Mason Plumlee finished with 12.
The game marked the final one for Dorenzo Hudson in a Tech uniform. He scored six points on 3 of 9 from the floor and grabbed four rebounds. He finished with exactly 1,200 points in his career.
“I really enjoyed this season,” Hudson said. “The group of guys in the locker room, they really fought. It was a rough season for us. We wanted to win more games than we did, but I’m going to take a lot of positive things from this.”
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