DURHAM, N.C. — Erick Green got the look he wanted. He didn’t take it, opting to make a second move. It might have cost Virginia Tech a shot at its biggest upset of the year.
Green’s jumper in the lane with five seconds left in regulation hit off the rim and Cadarian Raines’ attempted stick-back with two seconds left hit off the backboard.
And in overtime, No. 5 Duke put the Hokies away, winning 70-65 on Saturday at packed and rowdy Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“I wanted to go one-on-one, clear the court out, go flat,” Green, a junior guard, said. “I had him with the first move, I had him going back. I should have pulled up on the first move instead of waiting on the second move.”
In overtime, freshman guard Austin Rivers drew three fouls, although he hit just three of his six free throws, to help the Blue Devils (25-4, 12-2 ACC) fend off the surprisingly pesky Hokies (15-14, 4-10).
“It’d be nice to win by 20 and then be able to sit, but Virginia Tech is a great basketball team,” Rivers said. “That’s a team that you’re not going to do that with. You’re not going to blow out Virginia Tech.”
Rivers finished with a game-high 23 points. Junior guard Seth Curry scored 15 of his 19 points after halftime, helping hand Tech its latest narrow defeat in an increasingly frustrating season full of close losses.
Five of the team’s last six games going into Saturday have come down to a single basket, and Virginia Tech was 3-2 in that stretch. On the year, it is now 5-9 in games decided by five points or less.
Saturday, the Hokies erased a five-point deficit in the final seven minutes, but scored only two baskets in the final four minutes of regulation.
“At no point in the game I felt like we were beat at all,” said senior guard Dorenzo Hudson, who was one of three Hokies with 16 points.
His 3-pointer with 1:29 left in regulation put Tech up 58-55.
After a Mason Plumlee put-back, Rivers had a chance to give Duke the lead. But he hit just one of two free throws with 32 seconds left, tying the game 58-58.
That set up Green’s chance to be the hero.
“We just weren’t able to finish,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “The last possession of the [regulation], we wanted to go flat for Erick, try to get him in the lane if they helped up. We got what we wanted.”
But Green’s shot and Raines’ second chance wouldn’t fall. And in overtime, the Hokies did.
Instead of an upset that would have made national news, it goes into the books as another game where a stretch of offensive ineffectiveness combined with poor free-throw shooting tacked another loss on Virginia Tech’s record.
Green, Hudson and Raines (Petersburg) each scored 16 for the Hokies, accounting for 48 of the team’s 65 total points. Virginia Tech went 7-for-16 from the free-throw line.
“It’s part of the game,” Greenberg said of the latest free-throw line failures. “Players miss free throws. It’s not just our team, it’s all teams.”
Green had a second, painful miss in overtime. With nine seconds left and Tech down 66-63, Green split the Duke defense for an unguarded layup. But the ball rolled off the rim.
“I wish I could have that one back,” Green said. “I don’t really know how that came out. It felt good coming out of my hands. I thought it was an easy layup. No one contested me. It just came off the front of the rim.”
Read more about the Hokies at VTeffect.com