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Virginia Tech 66, BC 65

BC is bounced at the end

A late tip-in gives Hokies a victory

Virginia Tech’s Dorian Finney-Smith scores the winning basket despite the efforts of several Boston College players. Virginia Tech’s Dorian Finney-Smith scores the winning basket despite the efforts of several Boston College players. (Matt Gentry/Associated Press/The Roanoke Times)
By Andy Bitter
Globe Correspondent / February 13, 2012
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BLACKSBURG, Va. - Boston College did a decent job of stopping Virginia Tech’s first attempt each time down the floor last night.

It was the second one that presented problems.

Hokies forward Dorian Finney-Smith’s tip-in with 2.4 seconds left handed BC a 66-65 loss at Cassell Coliseum, a disappointing finish for a team coming off an upset of Florida State only four days earlier.

Finney-Smith, who scored a career-high 17 points off the bench to go with eight rebounds, went up and over BC’s frontcourt to tip in a missed 3-pointer by Bobby Brown that bounced high into the air.

It was the 18th offensive rebound of the night for the Hokies (14-11, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who avenged a 61-59 loss to the Eagles in Chestnut Hill Jan. 14 and snapped a four-game losing streak in the series. The Hokies converted those boards into 22 second-chance points.

“That was our Achilles’ heel tonight,’’ said Eagles coach Steve Donahue, whose team remains winless on the road.

BC (8-17, 3-8) got a good look at a potential game-winner in the final seconds on a play it practices every day. Guard Lonnie Jackson received the inbounds pass near midcourt, took two dribbles toward the hoop, and got off a shot a few feet beyond the 3-point line.

It was a little right and long, hitting the backboard and rim before bouncing away.

“I thought it was perfect execution,’’ Donahue said. “We got a great pass, a clean look, and I thought it was in.’’

Despite the final score, Donahue thought the game was a step forward for his young team, which didn’t show any hangover coming off the highlight of its season, a 64-60 upset of No. 15 Florida State, which is tied with Duke and North Carolina atop the ACC standings.

“I thought Coach D brought us back down to earth pretty quickly in the next day of practice,’’ freshman forward Ryan Anderson said.

The Eagles, who entered the game last in the league in scoring (59.5 ppg) and field goal percentage (.407), were efficient with the ball. They were ahead by as many as 10 points in the first half and led for all but two minutes in the second half.

The Eagles’ 65 points were the most they’ve scored in an ACC game this season. They committed only 10 turnovers, shot a season-high 56 percent (24 for 43), and made nine 3-pointers, only one fewer than they did in upsetting the Seminoles.

Anderson led the way with 17 points, but Jackson (14), Matt Humphrey (13), and Dennis Clifford (10) all reached double figures.

“In some ways we really played better tonight than we did against Florida State except for one facet of the game,’’ Donahue said. “It was good offense. You shoot 56 percent on the road, you’re going to win most games.’’

A layup by Clifford with 1:44 left gave the Eagles a 65-59 lead that seemed comfortable, but Virginia Tech stormed back.

Hokies guard Erick Green hit a jumper to cut the lead to 4 before Finney-Smith trimmed it to 1 by converting a 3-point play after - guess what? - grabbing one of his seven offensive rebounds with 28 seconds remaining.

“They have a lot of athletic players out there on the court,’’ said Anderson, who had seven of BC’s 19 total rebounds. “With our game plan, 10 percent of it is our schematics, but the last 90 percent is just going after the ball. And I think they went after the ball better than we did.’’

The Hokies fouled BC point guard Jordan Daniels with 26 seconds left. A 74 percent free throw shooter, the freshman missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Virginia Tech the ball and a chance to win.

Coming out of a timeout, the Eagles put Jackson on Brown. He forced Virginia Tech’s shooting guard into a 3-pointer with four seconds left that hit the rim and bounced straight up.

Finney-Smith, who went six straight games earlier this season without a field goal, outleaped BC for the tip-in, however.

“If the ball goes right or left, we probably win the game,’’ Donahue said. “But it goes straight up and Finney-Smith goes in there and gets it.’’

While the loss stung, Donahue was encouraged by the team’s effort.

“That was one of the best games we’ve played all year,’’ he said. “There wasn’t any situation where I said, ‘Man, they are really young. They really screwed up.’ I thought we managed the game very well. We got outworked at the end.’’

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