In a terribly ugly game, BYU did just enough to win. The Cougars made just 33% from the field, but when it counted, Noah Hartsock and Brock Zylstra delivered, giving BYU the 70-68 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.
When Brandon Davies picked up his fourth foul with 11:37 left in the game, BYU trailed by four. Hartsock put the team on his beautiful balding head. In the next seven minutes, Hartsock knocked down a three, scored a putback off a missed Zylstra superhoop, and went 6-7 from the free-throw line as a result of doing work in the post. When Davies checked back in with four minutes left, the game was tied.
BYU went just 5-24 from deep on the night (making an atrocious 9-60 for the last three games), but when the Cougs needed big shots, they got just enough. Charles Abouo was 1-7 from three-point range on the night, but his one make gave BYU a 62-59 lead down the stretch. Then with the game tied at 66-66, Davies passed out of the paint to an open Brock Zylstra, 0-4 from deep at the time of the pass, who stepped into a three and buried it with 26 seconds left.
On its last gasp, Virginia Tech turned to Erick Green, who drove the lane for a good look but was blocked by Hartsock. A last-second three-pointer clanged off the rim, and the win was secure.
Hartsock would finish 7-12 from the field and 7-8 from the line to lead all scorers with 22. Davies was the only other Cougar in double digits, as he had 17. Davies was 11-12 from the line, where for all intents and purposes BYU won the game. Hartsock's and Davies's excellent lines led BYU to shoot 21-24 from the line, while Virginia Tech went just 15-23.
The good back-and-forth finish was some salve for the otherwise rough, ugly night. Virginia Tech started the game 0-16 from the field and BYU built a 13-1 lead as deep as 10 minutes into the first half. Take away the Hokies' slow start, however, and they bounced back well to fight back into the game, shooting 24-40 for the rest of the game. BYU's steady hand at the line and victory in the turnover battle (seven to Virginia Tech's 15) helped the Cougars stave off the hot shooting.
With the Cougars picking up an important road win for future at-large considerations, the focus now turns back to the conference race. The ranked Gaels of Saint Mary's come to Provo Saturday for a 7 p.m. matchup on ESPNU.