The Virginia Tech Hokies had no answer for Wake Forest senior guard Tyree Appleby. As a result, the Hokies lost their second straight game in a 77-75 heartbreaker to the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem.
The Hokies jumped out to an eight-point lead nine minutes into the game after senior forward Grant Basile knocked down a pair of free throws to give VT a 20-12 lead. The Deacons then scored the following 10 points to take a two-point lead. The up-and-down trend continued, though, as sophomore point guard Sean Pedulla hit two free throws and Tech went back up by five.
The two teams continued trading buckets in the first half before heading into intermission tied at 38.
The Deacs jumped on the Hokies early in the second half, opening up an 11-point lead, and continued to keep Virginia Tech at arm’s length until senior forward Justyn Mutts made a layup with 7:35 remaining to trim Wake’s lead to 61-60. Again, Wake answered, going back up by as many as seven. Then, another Mutts’ bucket made it 72-70 with just over two minutes remaining, and it looked like the Hokies could finally overtake the Demon Deacons.
Appleby would connect on three free throws, giving WF a five-point lead with 1:!5 left in the game. Basile came down the court and drilled a three for the Hokies, again making it a two-point game. The Deacs hit two more free throws to increase their lead by four with only seven seconds remaining, essentially icing the game.
The loss is Virginia Tech’s second in a row after last week’s upset loss to Boston College. Mutts had a strong game for the Hokies, scoring 18 points, pulling down 11 rebounds, dishing out five assists and also had three steals. Pedulla finished with 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds for the Hokies, who shot 46% from the field and made just six of 21 from 3-point range.
Turnovers were a problem for Tech, as the Hokies turned the ball over 13 times.
The Hokies played their first game without senior guard Hunter Cattoor. Freshman Rodney Rice was considered a game-time decision and did not play, meaning the Hokies were shorthanded for the game.
The Hokies [11-3, 1-2] return home to Blacksburg to host Clemson in what will be a must-win game.