BLACKSBURG, Va. – Brock Zylstra hit a 3-pointer with 26.5 seconds left and Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies combined for 39 points to lead the BYU men’s basketball team to a narrow 70-68 road victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies.
With the game tied at 66-all, Zylstra hit a three, his first basket of the game, with 26.5 seconds remaining to give BYU a 69-66 lead, after which freshman Anson Winder stole the ball, took a foul and hit one of two free throws to give BYU (18-5, 6-2 WCC) a four-point advantage.
Virginia Tech (12-8, 1-4 ACC) responded with a quick two and a steal on the BYU inbounds pass, giving the Hokies the ball, down 70-68 with 9.8 seconds to play. The Cougars played strong defense on the final possession and forced Virginia Tech into a deep three at the buzzer, which clanked off the rim and gave BYU its first true road win against an ACC opponent in school history.
"It was a grind of a game," head coach Dave Rose said. "I think the most important thing for our players, win or lose in this game, was to really believe we could be more competitive and be a tougher group of guys that are resilient."
Hartsock led with a game-high 22 points, including 16 in the second half and grabbed seven boards, while Davies added 17 points and five rebounds. They combined to shoot 18 of 20 from the free throw line and the team went 21 of 24 from the charity stripe.
BYU also had just seven turnovers to tie a season-low and outscored the Hokies 23-6 off turnovers.
After trailing for the entire first half, the Hokies built up a six-point advantage at 45-39 by shooting 7 of 10 to start the final period. The Cougars responded with an 11-0 run, highlighted by a five straight points by Matt Carlino, to take a 50-45 lead.
"When it comes down to when we are challenged, we can respond," Rose said. "When we aren’t playing well we can respond and when we aren’t scoring the ball we can still guard hard. I think we have made some progress in that over the last two or three days."
The remainder of the half was a back and forth battle, as the teams exchanged baskets through the final minute. The teams were tied three times in the final two minutes, at 62, 64 and 66 before Zylstra came through with his big shot with 26.5 seconds remaining.
The Cougars jumped out to an early 13-1 lead due to solid defense and poor shooting by Virginia Tech. BYU held the Hokies scoreless for the first seven minutes and without a field goal until the 10:17 mark.
BYU’s lead slowly dwindled as the half continued. The Cougars struggled from the field and made just 9 of 30 attempts and shot 1 of 8 from beyond the arc. Free throw shooting was key in maintaining a narrow lead and Davies led the way by shooting 8 of 8 from the line in opening period.
Virginia Tech made eight of their final 15 shots in the half to narrow the Cougar lead to four at 29-25 heading into the locker room. Davies led BYU with 12 first half points.
BYU will be back at the Marriott Center to continue its conference schedule against No. 20 Saint Mary’s. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM.