22 Mar Virginia Tech falls to Alabama in the NCAA Tournament, 86–83
Virginia Tech’s season came to a close on Thursday night as the Hokies fell to Alabama, 86–83.
“I thought tonight was a great — a great game,” said Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams. “And just didn’t come out on the end we wanted to.”
The game was great; it featured 10 lead changes, 10 ties and 169 points.
Alabama was led, as usual, by its star point guard Collin Sexton. The future NBA lottery pick scored a game-high 25 points, 20 of which came in the second half.
“Coach just told me if I got a shot, don’t worry, just shoot it and play my game,” Sexton said on his confidence in the second-half. “Also my teammates, like Donta (Hall), they kept uplifting me and I felt like it was big.”
The Crimson Tide’s second-leading scorer was forward John Petty, who connected on six of his eight 3-point attempts.
“We prepare, we prepare for these and we just shot the ball in practice,” Petty said. “Just to make sure we come into this game ready and that’s what we did.”
Donta Hall, one of Alabama’s best players, was questionable heading into Thursday’s game as a result of a concussion suffered last week. Hall did in fact play, and boy did he make an impact.
The forward scored 10 points on 5–5 shooting, and provided a nice boost for Alabama.
The Hokies were led by their point guard as well, Justin Robinson. Robinson had a team-high 19 points and a game-high seven assists.
In his final game wearing orange and maroon threads, senior Justin Bibbs scored 17 points, while fellow senior and Pittsburgh native Devin Wilson was held scoreless in his last game.
“We’ll miss those guys, not just in the stat sheet. We’ll miss their character. We’ll miss their spirit. We’ll miss their work ethic. We’ll miss their leadership … (Devin) finished in last place as a freshman, he finished in last place as a sophomore, and then to be able to play in the NCAA Tournament, in essence, at his home, I think that’s really cool,” Williams said.
Freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 15 in his first NCAA Tournament game, and Wabissa Bede scored nine in his NCAA debut.
With 48 seconds to go in the game, Robinson was called for a questionable charge, that many people thought should’ve been a block on Alabama. That was Robinson’s fifth foul, and it infuriated Williams.
The fourth-year head coach slammed his towel down on the scorers’ table, resulting in a technical foul.
“I shouldn’t have had the towel in my hand, I think that made it look worse. I thought it was a block,” Williams said.
So now instead of getting a possible and-one, as Robinson made the basket, it was Alabama’s ball, after it nailed the technical free throw and the Hokies were without their leader.
From there on out, Tech was facing an uphill battle. It was over.
The loss marks the second-straight season that Virginia Tech was bounced from the first round of the NCAA Tournament, after the Hokies fell to Wisconsin last season.
The Hokies finished 21–12 overall, 10–8 in the ACC, but all they care about right now is the fact that they finished 0–1 in the NCAA Tournament.
“As of right now, you’re upset that we lost, and that’s kind of all that’s really on the mindset right now,” Wilson said.