Sunday, February 3, 2008

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Seth Greenberg gathered his team for the start of overtime, preparing to make them laugh to ease the tension with the game still to be won.

Freshman Hank Thorns beat him to it.

“I think Hank was the one, he was like, ‘I love overtime,’ ” the Hokies coach said yesterday after the Hokies dominated the extra period and kept rival Virginia in a downward spiral with a 72-65 victory. ” ‘We’re good in overtime.’ Whatever he said, and I just turned to him and said, ‘I don’t disagree with you there. I’m all for that.’ ”

The Hokies then went out and proved Thorns right.

Jeff Allen scored four points in a 10-2 run to start the extra period and the youth-laden Hokies won their third straight and remained the surprise team of the ACC.

Virginia Tech (14-8, 5-3 ACC) is not supposed to be doing this, not with six freshmen in the top nine players, including the starting guards.

But no one has told them that, or someone has convinced them otherwise.

“Usually young guys are lost when they come to a program, but when they have good leaders like that and everybody’s feeding off of them, they can be a good team,” Virginia guard Sean Singletary said of the Hokies after his 26 points were not enough.

The Cavaliers (11-9, 1-6) lost for the seventh time in eight games and are off to their worst start in the ACC since the 2004-05 team lost seven of its first eight.

The Hokies, meanwhile, are flying high with road victories at Virginia and Boston College already in the books and their confidence growing with each victory.

“We’re just playing,” said A.D. Vassallo, who scored 14 points despite being in foul trouble for much of the game. “It’s part of gaining confidence and chemistry.”

Deron Washington scored 15 points despite 3-for-14 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds, Allen scored 12 and Malcolm Delaney and Lewis Witcher had 10 for the Hokies.

Singletary, hobbled by a hip pointer, got little help from the Cavaliers, but hit a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.

“We made it a fight,” Singletary said. “We just didn’t have enough in our tank.”

Allen scored inside to start the overtime after Thorns saved the possession after a miss by diving for a ball headed out of bounds, and Vassallo made it a 58-54 with a dunk. After Singletary’s jumper in the lane, Delaney made a pair of free throws for the Hokies and Thorns fed Allen all alone underneath for a two-handed dunk with 2:06 left.

Thorns’ basket made it 64-56 and Virginia never got closer than six again.

“That’s who we are,” Greenberg said of the Hokies scrappy, grinding style. “Let’s face it. We’re not aesthetically attractive here. We’re like the Ugly Betty in a lot of ways probably, but we find a way to get it done. That’s who we are.”

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