BLACKSBURG, Virginia — The Virginia Tech Hokies were ambushed by the Appalachian State Mountaineers and went on to lose 65-63 on Saturday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.
Frank Eaves, who notched a game-winning layup, led the Mountaineers (1-2) with 19 points. He split two defenders after getting trapped in the corner and his desperation shot climbed in over the rim for the clincher with 10 seconds left.
"He had the guts to take it," head coach Jim Fox remarked, "Frank made a big play."
Adam Smith (11 points), Justin Bibbs and Devin Wilson (10 apiece) led the Hokies (2-1) attack. Wilson was downcast: "we came out very flat — we didn't play Virginia Tech basketball."
"It was a big game for them . they deserved to win," said Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams.
Appalachian State lead by as many as six points early in the second half before Virginia Tech clawed its way back in front. Back came the Mountaineers, forging ahead 59-56 with 5:43 to play. A Joey van Zegeren dunk put Tech up again 60-59 with four minutes left. Fox said his teamed showed fight, even when falling behind: "we weren't on our heels."
Virginia Tech tied the game at 63 with ten seconds left on a van Zegeren free throw. Eaves then drove the length of the court for the Mountaineers to score the winning basket. A last-second heave by Tech was off the mark.
A final 42-27 rebounding edge for Appalachian State (19 offensive boards) helped do in the Hokies, allowing the visitors to overcome 18 turnovers. They had 23 second chance points vs. just 5 for Tech. The Hokies had 14 miscues. Tech shot 44.6 percent for the game vs. 41.4 percent for the Mountaineers. "We got pulverized on the glass," Williams noted.
The Mountaineers (1-2) raced out to an 18-7 lead with 11:52 left in the first half on 8 of 13 shooting. The Hokies didn't lead in the game until a Devin Wilson bucket with 1:30 to play before the break. That lasted for a minute and Tech trailed 29-28 at the half. Despite committing 12 turnovers, a 23-14 rebounding edge for Appalachian State and 20 points in the paint (14 for Virginia Tech) kept the visitors in the game.
"We've known from the start that's going to be an issue," van Zegeren said of the rebounding deficiency. Virginia Tech has been outrebounded in all three games this season.
"I think we showed toughness and pride in getting stops," said Fox.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers broke a three-game losing streak, and a larger string of 10 straight losses against nonconference Division I foes. Snaring 19 offensive boards "was huge," said Fox.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are now 7-2 all-time versus Appalachian State, a first year member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Hokies had won the last six in the series. Every game has been played in Blacksburg. Mountaineers first year head Jim Fox tutored NBA star Stephen Curry as an assistant coach at Davidson.
The Hokies escape the cold weather for a few days, heading to Cancun, Mexico for the Cancun Challenge. The first of two games is against Northern Iowa on November 25. They'll play in a championship or consolation game the next day. "We'll find a way to have some fun (but) we've got to figure out how to improve," said Williams.
App State plays its first home game of the season Monday against Hampton