March 2, 2016
Big second half propels Tech to 65-61 win over Pittsburgh
Hokies clinch first winning season since 2010-11
12F
Pittsburgh (20-9, 9-8) 263561
Virginia Tech (17-13, 9-8) 273865
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 6,949
  • High Points: 20 - Zach LeDay
  • High Rebounds: 10 - Zach LeDay

BLACKSBURG – Zach LeDay scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Virginia Tech dominated most of the second half and then held on for a 65-61 victory over Pittsburgh in an ACC game Wednesday night at Virginia Tech Carilion Court.

With the win, the Hokies moved to 17-13 overall, 9-8 in ACC play – and 6-2 in ACC home games. Tech won its fourth straight conference game, which is a first since the 2009-2010 season. More importantly, the Hokies clinched a winning season for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

“I don’t know that anybody could have predicted this,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “But I will say this. I was very open and transparent with all those guys that we signed – this is what you’re walking into, this is who I am, this is how I go about things, this is what our culture is going to be and this is what it is when you arrive.

“So many of those decisions that those families made were made on faith. That was about the only thing that you could reach to. I think, when you’re trying to do what we’re doing, if the foundation is built on faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love, I think you have a chance.”

The Hokies trailed 31-30 early in the second half but used an 18-5 run to blow the game open. Six different players scored and Devin Wilson’s 3-pointer capped the run, giving Tech a 48-36 advantage.

The Hokies would extend that lead to 13 on Justin Robinson’s 3-pointer with 7:15 remaining that gave them a 56-43 lead. Aside from poor free-throw shooting – the Hokies made just 19 of 35 attempts for the game – they played near-flawless basketball in the first 16 minutes of the second half, hitting 13 of its first 22 shots and turning the ball over just one time.

However, the Panthers (20-9, 9-8) closed the gap in the final four minutes of the game. They used a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 64-61 on a basket by Michael Young with 1:10 remaining.

Pittsburgh had a chance to tie the game nearly a minute later, but James Robinson’s 3-pointer was off the mark. LeDay rebounded for the Hokies and was fouled, making the latter of two free throws with 19.4 seconds left to give Tech a 65-61 lead.

James Robinson then missed a 3-pointer and a layup on Pittsburgh’s next possession, the final shot coming with five seconds left. Wilson rebounded for Tech to all but seal the game.

“We just needed to keep our foot on the gas,” LeDay said. “We needed to make free throws and finish the game. They came back in the end, but we finished it out with stops and rebounds.”

LeDay’s double-double marked his ninth of the season. He now has scored in double figures in 21 of the Hokies’ 30 games and scored at least 20 points in eight of those.

Justin Robinson and Seth Allen each added 10 points for the Hokies, who shot 44.5 percent from the floor and committed just eight turnovers. In a 90-71 loss at Pittsburgh last month, Tech turned the ball over 20 times.

Young led the Panthers, who shot just 38.9 percent, with 16 points, while James Robinson finished with 11.

The Hokies close the regular season Saturday with a home game against Miami. The game is slated to tip off at 4 p.m.

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