The Virginia Tech Hokies kept their hopes of making the NIT alive by avenging their earlier season loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers, defeating them 65-61, at Cassel Coliseum. The Hokies drew first blood with a Zach LeDay layup, but then Pitt ripped off eight straight points before the Hokies could finally return fire. The Hokies found themselves down by as much as seven points before they fought back to take the lead, 27-26, before the break. The crowd of about 7000 people finally detonated after Seth Allen stole the ball and set up a gorgeous alley-oop for LeDay five minutes into the second period. After the oop the Hokies never again trailed. At one point the Hokies found themselves up by 13 points before allowing the Panthers to fight back to within three points in the last minute of regulation. The Fighting Gobblers were able to hold on, and collected their fourth straight win.
As a team the Hokies outperformed the Panthers in many critical statistics. The most jaw-dropping metric of the evening was Pitt’s atrocious three-point percentage. The Panthers attempted 21 shots behind the line, and only managed to make three of them for a paltry 14.3% 3PTM-A. The Hokies were not exactly turning heads with their three-point performance, but they did make twice as many as the beleaguered Panthers. VPI managed 6-19 (31.6%) 3PTM-A. VT managed an overall better performance in all field goals making 20-45 (44.4%), while Pittsburgh hit 21-54 (38.9%). The Hokies continued their complicated relationship with free throws. Last week against Wake Forest they shot over 70 percent! Wednesday night, against Pitt, they only managed 19-35 for a pedestrian 54.3%. The Panthers, although they attempted far fewer, managed a respectable 16-23 (69.6%) FTM-A. Pitt grabbed 35 total rebounds - eight offensive and 27 defensive. The Hokies recovered 30 total rebounds – six offensive and 24 defensive.
LeDay again showed up big for Virginia Tech with 20 points (6-11 FGM-A, 8-10 FTM-A) and ten rebounds. Justin Robinson added ten points, while Justin Bibbs added nine. Off the bench Seth Allen also added ten points and four rebounds.
With the victory the Hokies are now 17-13 overall and a surprising 9-8 in ACC play. The last time the Hokies put together a four game winning streak against ACC foes it was 2010. The Hokies only have one more regular season game, and it will be a tough one. This Saturday the No. 7 Miami-Florida Hurricanes will invade Blacksburg, hoping to repeat their earlier season domination of the Hokies. But, for now, let us revel in the bliss of a triumph over a decent Pittsburgh Panthers squad. Go Hokies!