Virginia Tech wasted an heroic effort from forward Jeff Allen Saturday in a two-point loss to Boston College. Allen had 25 points and 19 rebounds in the loss, which was the Hokies' third consecutive defeat in Conte Forum and dropped them to 3-4 in true road games.
Poor shooting did in the Hokies as their jump shots just never fell with regularity. Take away Allen's 10-for-19 from the field and the rest of the team shot 10-for-39 (25.6 percent). Their struggles from the field were personified by guard Erick Green, who continued to struggle. He was 0-for-8 from the floor with the final miss coming on a 3-point attempt with four seconds left that would have given the Hokies the lead.
Tech started the game 3-for-15 and trailed 22-12 before getting its act together. The Hokies went on a 12-5 run to cut BC's lead to 27-24 at halftime. At the break, Allen had already recorded his fourth consecutive double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Green and Malcolm Delaney were a combined 0-for-9 from the field with two points.
In the second half, Delaney came alive to keep Boston College from pulling away. The Eagles' lead was never more than five points after the break as Delaney dropped 17 second-half points. His 3-pointer with 5:35 left gave the Hokies their only lead of the game at 49-48. Unfortunately, BC answered with a pair of threes of its own.
Like the UNC game, Delaney was one of the main reasons the Hokies were in the game late, but was also one of the reasons they couldn't close the deal. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 24 second left and the Hokies down by two. Terrell Bell managed to grab Tech's 16th offensive rebound of the game, which led to Green's 3-point attempt.
In the end, it was Tech's inability to get its jump shots to fall that led to its defeat. The Hokies didn't turn the ball over (six total to BC's eight) and again excelled on the boards, out-rebounding BC 40-32. But on a day when the Eagles were also struggling offensively (43.4 percent from the floor) they couldn't take advantage of a prime opportunity.
The loss deprived Tech of a road win over a team currently ranked 38th in the official RPI despite two losses to Ivy League schools. It would have been its best win this season in terms of RPI. The Hokies are quickly running out of chances for a quality win as they face only two more teams currently ranked in the top 50 of the RPI: Home games against BC and Duke.
Close losses are slowly killing the Hokies. They are 0-4 in games decided by three points or fewer and if they're going to be an NCAA Tournament team, they're going to have to learn to close. Last year's team thrived in close games and still found themselves on the wrong side of the bubble on Selection Sunday.
Next on Virginia Tech's basketball schedule: 1 p.m. EST Feb. 13 vs. Georgia Tech in Blacksburg.
For the BC perspective, check out BC Interruption.