Clemson erased an 11-point halftime deficit to pull within two points in the second half on a couple of occasions, but Virginia Tech converted 15 out of 18 from the free throw line in the second half to close out a 69-61 victory on the Hokies' Senior Night at Cassell Coliseum.
With the win, Virginia Tech improved to 13-16 on the season, 4-12 in the ACC. Clemson fell to 13-15 overall, 5-11 in league play.
Devin Booker led the Tigers with 17 points, including 12 in the second half. Adonis Filer tied his ACC-high with 13 points in a supporting effort for Clemson, who played without second-leading scorer K.J. McDaniels for a second straight contest due to an ankle injury. Milton Jennings also had 13 points Saturday. Erick Green led Tech on his Senior Night, scoring a game-high 29 points.
Virginia Tech out-shot the Tigers, converting 54.8 percent of its field goals. Clemson was just 23-of-54 for a 42.6 percent clip. The Tigers once again struggled from long distance, making only four of 16 three-point attempts. Tech made 6-of-13 from three, 46 percent. Tech dominated the boards, owning a +12 rebound advantage for the night.
Clemson took a 15-11 lead at the 12:30 mark on a traditional three-point play by Booker. But Green responded with his second trifecta of the early going, a fadeaway shot from the top to draw the Hokies within one. Following another hanging three and a steal and conversion, Tech was suddenly up 21-17 with 9:56 to play. The lead reached six after VT closed out an 11-2 run in which Clemson committed three turnovers.
The Tigers went nearly seven minutes without a field goal until Filer scored on a putback with 2:41 to go. Clemson made only three of its final 14 field goal attempts and trailed by 11 at halftime.
Damarcus Harrison cut the deficit to nine at 42-33 with 14:54 left on a drive from the right side. Booker later scored eight consecutive points to pull Clemson within three at 46-43. The Tigers pulled to within two at 50-48 on a putback inside by Jennings with just under 10 to play. But Tech scored five unanswered to push its lead to 55-48 before a Booker flush cut it to five.
Down 57-53 with multiple chances to draw closer over a span of three minutes, Clemson yielded a deep three to Green with just under four to play that proved to be a back-breaker. But the Tigers responded again, first on a follow shot by Rod Hall and then on a steal and breakaway jam by Filer. The freshman out of Chicago, IL drew the Tigers within three at 64-61 on a pair of free throws, and Clemson got a steal off of its pressure with 48 seconds left. Filer was fouled again on a drive, but this time missed both and VT salted the game away at the charity stripe.
The Tigers return home to play host to Boston College on Tuesday at 7:00 PM. Clemson will celebrate Senior Night, where Booker and Jennings will be honored prior to the game at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Tigers fall in Blacksburg
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