BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Seth Greenberg gathered his team for the start of overtime, preparing to make them laugh to ease the tension with the game still to be won.
Freshman Hank Thorns beat him to it."I think Hank was the one, he was like, `I love overtime," the Hokies coach said Saturday after the Hokies dominated the extra period and kept rival Virginia in a downward spiral with a 72-65 victory. "We're good in overtime.' Whatever he said, and I just turned to him and said, `I don't disagree with you there. I'm all for that."The Hokies then went out and proved Thorns right.Jeff Allen scored four points in a 10-2 run to start the extra period and the youth-laden Hokies won their third straight and remained the surprise team of the ACC.Virginia Tech (14-8, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) is not supposed to be doing this, not with six freshman in the top nine players, including the starting guards.But no one has told them that, or someone has convinced them otherwise."Usually young guys are lost when they come to a program, but when they have good leaders like that and everybody's feeding off of them, they can be a good team," Virginia guard Sean Singletary said of the Hokies after his 26 points were not enough.The Cavaliers (11-9, 1-6) lost for the seventh time in eight games and are off to their worst start in the ACC since the 2004-05 team lost seven of its first eight.The Hokies, meanwhile, are flying high with road victories at Virginia and Boston College already in the books and their confidence growing with each victory."We're just playing," said A.D. Vassallo, who scored 14 points despite being in foul trouble for much of the game. "It's part of gaining confidence and chemistry."Deron Washington scored 15 points despite 3-for-14 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds, Allen scored 12 and Malcolm Delaney and Lewis Witcher had 10 for the Hokies.Singletary, hobbled by a hip pointer, got little help from the Cavaliers, but hit a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime."We made it a fight," Singletary said. "We just didn't have enough in our tank."Allen scored inside to start the overtime after Thorns saved the possession after a miss by diving for a ball headed out of bounds, and Vassallo made it a 58-54 with a dunk. After Singletary's jumper in the lane, Delaney made a pair of free throws for the Hokies and Thorns fed Allen all alone underneath for a two-handed dunk with 2:06 left.Thorns' basket made it 64-56 and Virginia never got closer than six again."That's who we are," Greenberg said of the Hokies scrappy, grinding style. "Let's face it. We're not aesthetically attractive here. We're like the Ugly Betty in a lot of ways probably, but we find a way to get it done. That's who we are."The Cavaliers, meanwhile, rarely seem to know who they are -- or, more importantly, who to count on -- beyond their dazzling point guard, even when he is ailing."A guy with that kind of spirit should be able to get that from everybody else, and we're just not getting enough of it," a disgusted Cavaliers coach Dave Leitao said.In the final seconds, the fans at sold-out Cassell Coliseum serenaded the reeling Cavaliers with a favorite chant: "Just like football! Just like football!"Less than three weeks ago, the Hokies won at Virginia in overtime on a driving layup by Washington that dropped as the buzzer sounded. He was almost the hero again.Tied at 52 with 20 seconds left, Singeltary's 3-point try missed, and Washington went high to grab the rebound. He then sprinted downcourt and followed Vassallo's missed drive with a putback dunk with 13.9 seconds left to give Tech the lead.Washington then was assigned to guard Singletary, and Singletary drove down the right side, drew J.T. Thompson in help defense and was hammered by both as he attempted to shoot, hitting the floor hard. He then made both free throws to tie the game.The Hokies should have won in regulation when Thompson was all alone under the basket to put back Thorns' shot, but his attempt to lay it in came up short, and Delaney rebounded and missed, too, though it wasn't clear his would have counted.The sent the game to overtime, just like the first meeting.And just like the first meeting, the Hokies took it from there.