BLACKSBURG, Va. – Steffon Mitchell had scored just 17 points in Boston College’s previous four games, but he certainly delivered in a big way Saturday.
Mitchell tied career highs with 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead Boston College to a 77-73 overtime victory over Virginia Tech.
Mitchell came into the game averaging just 6.7 points per game, but he scored the final four points of the game for the Eagles (12-12, 6-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had lost six of their previous eight. He made 5 of 10 from the floor and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line, and he also dished out six assists.
“My teammates were moving the ball well,” Mitchell said. “We started off slow, but we just kept through the process. I found some open ways to get some shots, crashed on offensive boards, and hit some free throws.”
Mitchell’s performance overshadowed a great game from Virginia Tech’s Landers Nolley II, who grabbed 11 rebounds and scored a game-high 29 points for the Hokies (14-10, 5-8). Virginia Tech lost its fifth consecutive game.
Mitchell made a tough layup over Nolley with 11.6 seconds to go in overtime to give the Eagles a 75-73 lead. On the ensuing possession, Nolley missed a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key with 5 seconds remaining, and Mitchell grabbed the rebound. Tyrece Radford fouled Mitchell with 2 seconds left and the 6-foot-8 forward made both free throws to seal the BC win.
“I’m really proud of the courage our team showed,” BC coach Jim Christian said. “That’s a lot of guts. Those guys were out there playing to win the basketball game … Our guards had to play the whole game. Jared Hamilton got hurt in the first five minutes of the game. We didn’t have numbers, but we found a way to win the game, and I’m proud of them.”
BC had a chance to put the game away in regulation. The Eagles led 66-64 with Derryck Thornton heading to the free-throw line with 29.3 seconds remaining. But Thornton missed the front end of a one-and-one, and on the Hokies’ possession, BC’s Jairus Hamilton fouled Nahiem Alleyne with 4.4 seconds left. Alleyne made both free throws to tie the game, and BC did not get a shot off on its final possession.
Jay Heath tied a career high with 18 points for BC. Alleyne added 16 for the Hokies.
“Just got to hang in there,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said. “It’s college basketball. The sky isn’t falling. We’re going to be OK … My team fought and competed like crazy. Boston College was just a little bit better than we were.”
Boston College: The Eagles now have won more conference games than they did last season, and with a solid nucleus of Mitchell, Heath and Thornton, they could be a tough out for teams down the stretch.
Virginia Tech: Three weeks ago, the Hokies were in great position for an NCAA Tournament berth, but they are now in desperate need of a victory after losing five straight, including two to BC and one to Georgia Tech – teams that were in the lower half of the ACC standings. Virginia Tech now has a much-needed week off before attempting to right the ship next weekend against Pittsburgh.
MORE ON MITCHELL
Mitchell’s 15 rebounds were a season high, and he registered his fifth double-double of the season. He entered the game shooting just 52% from the free-throw line, but he made a season-high nine in 11 attempts.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence here making free throws,” Mitchell said. “Even early on in the season, I’ve struggled at the line, but I don’t think I ever lost confidence like I did in previous years. I thought, even when I missed a couple (Saturday), I felt great.”
BC was the worst free-throw shooting team in the ACC coming in (65.1), but made 20 of 26 attempts (76.9%).
POPOVIC SENT TO LOCKER ROOM
In an interesting move, Christian sent BC reserve player Nik Popovic to the locker room late in the game. Popovic had not fouled out, and Christian offered few details on his decision.
“We just had a little incident on the bench, so I told him to leave,” Christian said.
Boston College: The Eagles play at Miami on Wednesday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies play at home against Pittsburgh on Saturday.