In the waning seconds before halftime, senior guard Seth Allen found himself running out of room as he dribbled towards the right corner. He jumped and threw a bullet pass to junior guard Justin Bibbs. All Bibbs did, was nail what was essentially a touch-shot three-pointer off of Allen’s pass.
It was a play that typified a big-shooting night early on for Virginia Tech. The Hokies cooled off and had to withstand a second half run by visiting Boston College, but held on for an 85-79 win Sunday night.
"That's the problem, we should start hot every night," Bibbs said. "It's just our mindset, us coming out, we've gotta have a good start against them."
Allen and Bibbs each had a team-high 18 points, while senior forward Zach LeDay added 17 points as coach Buzz Williams claimed win No. 200 as a head coach. Virginia Tech also won despite 30 points, including nine three-pointers by the Eagles’ Jordan Chatman. The Hokies shot 59.1 percent from the floor in the win.
"I think he's older than you," Williams joked about Chatman to a reporter. "I haven't seen his birth certificate, but he has to be the oldest sophomore in the country.
"In many respects, including the first half, I thought (Chatman) changed the complexion of the game."
Virginia Tech was hot-shooting out of the gate, as it made 10 of its first 11 shots from the field. Junior forward Tyrone Outlaw got it going as he nailed a pair of three-pointers to start.
Sophomore forward Chris Clarke kept the early momentum when he took a rebound coast to coast for an easy dunk in transition. He was whistled for a technical for hanging on the rim and doing a chin-up, but it put the Hokies up 21-11.
Virginia Tech got out to as much as 36-18 lead with 7:20 to play, on a layup by Clarke. But the Eagles hung around thanks to the white-hot shooting hand of Chatman. He nailed all seven of his shots from the field, including six three pointers for 21 points in the first half.
Bibbs’ three in the final seconds of the first half put the Hokies ahead 47-36. It capped a half in which Virginia Tech his 63.6 percent of its shots in the half. Boston College shot 44 percent for the half.
Chatman’s sizzling shooting continued to start the second half, as he drained another three-pointer and the Eagles would climb within 47-42. But sophomore guard Justin Robinson and Outlaw responded with a pair of three-pointers to put extend the Hokies’ lead back to 53-44 before another Chatman three.
"Whenever you've got a guy knocking down shots like that, you've just gotta find him, whatever defense you're in, zone, man" Allen said. "You've just gotta locate him. I think we did a good job of that in the second half. He kinda got loose on a couple of offensive rebounds, but that's our blame, when we don't get the rebound. Whenever you can locate a good shooter like that, it's better for your defense."
Again, Virginia Tech opened up its lead a bit more, this time to 63-52 on a Bibbs layup with 12:34 to play that drew a Boston College timeout. But the Eagles answered with a 13-2 run to get back to within 66-65.
The Hokies fought back with a 10-2 run of their own, punctuated by a Bibbs three-pointer from the right corner. And down the stretch, despite more Chatman threes, Virginia Tech made the plays it needed. That included a LeDay baseline runner as the shot clock ticked down with under a minute to play.
"We've been in so many close games and we've been together for two and a half, three years," LeDay said. "So when a team cuts it to one, we're not panicking. We just stay even-keeled and we know we just have to make good plays down the stretch, offensively and defensively. We can turn the ball over and we have to play together. If we play together, we know we'll win the game and pull it out in the end."
The Hokies are back on the road Wednesday. They’ll travel to face in-state rival Virginia, No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll, with an 8 pm ET tip-off, televised on the ACC Network.