LeDay’s 20 and 10 lead Virginia Tech past Pitt, 65-61
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — The last of Zach LeDay’s 20 points on Wednesday night was not decisive, but may still have been the biggest of them all.
LeDay stopped a meltdown from the free throw line in the last 10 minutes, making the second of two attempts with 19.4 seconds remaining, and Virginia Tech held on to beat Pittsburgh 65-61, the Hokies’ fourth consecutive victory.
“It was surreal to watch, but we just realized we needed to get it back on defense,” LeDay said of watching the Hokies miss 10 of 15 free throws in the last 10 minutes and seeing the Panthers shrink a 12-point deficit to 64-61 with just over a minute remaining.
“We just kind of had a dull moment,” LeDay said. “We needed to keep our foot on the gas pretty much.”
LeDay also grabbed 10 rebounds while Seth Allen and Justin Robinson scored 10 points each for the Hokies (17-13, 9-8 Atlantic Coast Conference). They used a 16-4 second-half run to pull away and then almost let it slip in the tense final minute at Cassell Coliseum.
Their four-game winning streak in the ACC is their first since 2010, and it pulled them into a tie with the Panthers, Syracuse and Clemson for seventh place with one regular season game remaining for each. The Hokies finish by hosting No. 7 Miami on Saturday.
“Hopefully we can keep that momentum going against Miami,” guard Devin Wilson said. “We’re just taking it a game at a time.”
Michael Young scored 16 to lead the Panthers (20-9, 9-8) and James Robinson had 11.
Pittsburgh trailed by as many as 13 after halftime and was behind 64-52 before scoring the next nine points to get within 64-61 on Young’s dunk with 1:08 remaining. The Hokies, who had three turnovers during the Pitt run, missed a 3-pointer, giving Pitt a chance to tie, but Robinson’s shot was off the mark and LeDay hit a free throw with 19.4 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said foul trouble the Hokies caused by continually driving to the basket and drawing contact was “huge,” but the team needed to play better, too. Pitt shot just 38.9 percent (21-54) and, despite a size advantage, was outscored in the paint 26-22.
“We’ve got to get better play out of our 11,” Dixon said “I don’t think we got the play that we wanted across the board.”
LeDay’s basket with 7:37 left in the first half sparked a 12-0 run for the Hokies that gave them a 22-19 lead. The Panthers then scored seven straight, ending a more than 6-minute drought without a field goal, before the Hokies scored the final five points of the half to lead 27-26 at the break.
Earlier, Virginia Tech went scoreless for more than five minutes as the Panthers opened a 19-10 lead.
Pitt: The Panthers arrived having won all 19 of their games in which they scored 70 points this season. ... They were 2 for 13 from 3-point range in the first half and finished 3 for 21.
Virginia Tech: With nine ACC victories already this season, the Hokies have more than doubled their total of the past two seasons combined. Virginia Tech finished 2-16 in league play in each of the last two seasons.
Pitt closes the regular season at Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon.
Virginia Tech is at home against Miami on Saturday afternoon.