Blacksburg, Va. • The BYU Cougars traveled a long way from home to get their biggest win of the 2011-12 college basketball season.
Brock Zylstra made a 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining to break a tie at Cassell Coliseum, and the Cougars held on in the frantic final seconds to defeat Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference 70-68 in a crucial nonconference game for NCAA Tournament-bubble-sitting BYU.
“For us to score 70 points in this building, with the shooting percentage we had [33.3 percent], I am proud of our guys,” said BYU coach Dave Rose.
After Zylstra’s 3-pointer and a Virginia Tech turnover, Anson Winder made a free throw for BYU. Erick Green quickly answered for the Hokies, and they got the ball back with 9.8 seconds remaining when referees awarded them a ball knocked out of bounds, after a conference. However, Noah Hartsock blocked a shot, and a 3-point try was just off at the buzzer.
“We were disappointed [in the out-of-bounds call], but we were able to put that play behind us and make the next play,” Rose said.
BYU improved to 18-5 with a win sure to help its NCAA Tournament hopes, while Virginia Tech fell to 12-8.
Hartsock led BYU with 22 points, his fourth 20-plus-point game in his last five, and Brandon Davies added 17.
The Cougars were just 22 for 66 from the field, but were 21 of 24 from the free-throw line and committed just seven turnovers.
“We shot the ball really well from the free-throw line late in the second half,” Rose said.
Virginia Tech shot 42.9 percent despite missing its first 16 shots. However, the Hokies committed 15 turnovers and missed eight free throws.
The Cougars took a 29-25 lead at halftime, despite shooting just 30 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.
That’s because Virginia Tech was abysmal on offense in the first half. The Hokies didn’t make a field goal until 10 minutes, 17 seconds remained in the half.
The Cougars had a 27-19 lead before the home team got back in it with an 8-0 run, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers.
Davies led BYU in the first half with 12 points, including 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
It was BYU’s first-ever win against an ACC team playing on its home floor; next year, Virginia Tech will play BYU in December at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
The Cougars trailed early in the second half and were down by six, 45-39, with 11 minutes remaining before going on an 11-0 run to take control. However, the Hokies went on an 8-0 run a few minutes later, and the contest seesawed from there until Zylstra’s 3-pointer, his only basket after four misses.
For a boxscore of the game, go to: http://sltrib.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/ncaab-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NCAAB/results/2011-2012/boxscore829426.html