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Prayer sends game to overtime, but only prolongs loss

Defensive lapses, poor play down stretch allows Hokies to close out furious comebacks

Down three points with eight seconds left in regulation, Virginia desperately needed a score. Triple-covered several feet behind the arc, sophomore guard Sammy Zeglinski buried a game-tying shot to send the game to overtime. The momentum that Virginia Tech had built up coming back from a 10 point deficit with three minutes left in regulation, however, carried over into overtime and eventually helped the Hokies to a 76-71 victory against the once hot Cavaliers.

"They made some tough shots, they got [junior guard Malcolm] Delaney to the line, but I thought we had some breakdowns," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "It was certainly both. They had to make the plays and hit the shots."

Virginia started off the first half with solid defense that allowed the Cavaliers to stretch an early lead. Thanks to 14 first-half points by junior forward Mike Scott, the Cavaliers led the Hokies 22-10 with 5:28 left in the first period. Virginia Tech, however, then went on an 11-2 run to come within 3 points of Virginia.

Continuing to build momentum, the Hokie's pushed for a one point 28-27 halftime lead.

In the second half, the Cavaliers again tried to distance themselves from Virginia Tech. With the score 37-34 with 14:27 left in regulation, Virginia picked up its own scoring pace. After an intentional foul that was later ruled flagrant after review by the officials, Virginia Tech junior forward Jeff Allen was ejected from the game. Sophomore guard Jeff Jones then sank both free throws. Possession was awarded to Virginia following the foul shouts, which sophomore guard Sylven Landesburg converted into a two point jumper. Tech pushed down the court but came up empty on the next possession after a missed layup by junior guard Terrell Bell, which senior forward Jerome Meyinsse rebounded after a textbook box-out. Scott then hit a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, causing an already frenetic John Paul Jones Arena to nearly explode with excitement.

Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg was forced to call a timeout. In an attempt to turn momentum back in their favor, the Hokies started to run a full-court press.

The two teams went back and forth, but the Cavaliers still clung to a 10 point lead with three minutes left.

"I think in the last 10 minutes of the game we turned the ball over and took quick shots and score in transition and get some open looks and allowed them to come back in the game," Meyinsse said.

Yet again, Virginia coughed up a sizeable lead late in the final period. The orange and blue failed to score for 3:44 seconds at the same time breaking down defensively and allowing the Hokies to score 13 unanswered points.

"We just didn't make a lot of smart decisions," Scott said. "I think we played hard, but not smart."

Though Zeglinski's miraculous three-pointer delayed the inevitable, the same mistakes that plagued Virginia late in regulation followed the squad into overtime.

"It was transitions baskets actually," Bennett said. "That's something that, in this league, will test you and test you. If you are not sound in that area, that can hurt you. Because when our defense was set for the majority of the game it was hard for them to score. But when our defense wasn't set they made it look easy."

The challenges did not end last night for a reeling Virginia team, though, as it will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. to face the always competitive Tar Heels on Sunday.


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