Robert Brown’s 3-pointer had given Tech a 67-66 lead with 18 seconds left, but after Jarell Eddie blocked one Staten shot, the Mountaineers reset their offense. When Staten fooled the defense by driving the lane instead of using a ball screen, none of the Hokies’ big men helped weak side.
Saturday against Wake Forest, six weeks after the WVU defeat, Tech faced nearly the exact same situation. Leading 66-65 courtesy of Brown’s floater in the lane with 12 seconds remaining, the Hokies watched Deacons guard C.J. Harris reject a ball screen up high and instead drive the lane and soar toward the rim.
This time, Tech forward Cadarian Raines was ready.
“It was just like the West Virginia game,” he said. “(Harris) rejected the screen, I was help side and he was driving. He went up with two hands. I think he was trying to dunk it on me. I’m glad he altered it.”
The 6-3 Harris had to alter it because the 6-9 Raines challenged him.
“I wanted to go aggressively,’’ Harris told the Winston-Salem Journal’s Dan Collins. “I thought if I went aggressively, I could maybe draw the foul or would have dunked it. But I didn’t do it.”
Raines’ help-side defense left Wake’s Tyler Cavanaugh alone for a game-winning stickback, but he rushed the attempt as Eddie defended, and Tech (11-6, 2-2 ACC) escaped with its second consecutive conference victory.
“We had two shots at the rim,” Deacons coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “That’s exactly what we wanted.”
“I’m not going to lie,” Hokies guard Erick Green said. “When C.J. drove to the basket, I thought it was in.”
Tech coach James Johnson was pleased Raines and his teammates recalled the harsh lesson from Morgantown.
“I think the team learned from West Virginia,” Johnson said. “(Raines) contested the shot, which is what he didn’t do in the West Virginia game.”
Without question, there was an element of luck Saturday. Tech never should have allowed Harris into the lane so easily and was fortunate Cavanaugh also missed from point-blank range.
But in this case, the Hokies helped make their own luck.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns, including one from Saturday’s game on Brown.