BLACKSBURG, Va. – His voice hoarse after another night of disappointment, Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg seemed to take the Hokies' 75-60 loss to No. 7 Duke more personally than he's taken others.
Instead of keeping it close and losing in the end, the Hokies fell behind by double-digits during a late first-half spurt by the Blue Devils and never made enough of a run to make it close again.
"I'm really disappointed in how we deal with adversity," Greenberg said.
Even worse, the key stretch came before halftime when Duke pulled away from a 21-all tie with a 13-2 run. It was 38-28 at halftime and the Hokies never got any closer. It was their seventh loss in eight games, and while five have been by four points or less, this one was never in that range.
Erick Green led Virginia Tech (12-10, 1-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 17 points, and Victory Davila tied his career high with 16.
"They made their run, and we just didn't respond to that run," Green said after the locker room remained closed for an extended period. "We didn't have enough fight in us. ... We're not going to use the excuse that we're a young team. We've just got to get some more fight in us and play harder."
Davila said it needs to start in practice.
"We need for some more guys to start playing harder," said the senior, who had seven rebounds. "We've all got to be on the same page. That starts in practice. We've got to play harder."
Austin Rivers scored 18 points and Ryan Kelly had 15 for the Blue Devils.
Kelly had seven points in the 13-2 spurt that helped the Blue Devils (19-3, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) pull away, and then Rivers hit a 3-pointer to start it and Kelly scored the last five in a 10-0 burst in the second half when Duke extended its lead to 62-40 with 11:19 remaining.
Seth Curry added 11 points and Mason Plumlee had 10 for Duke.
The game was tied 21-all when Duke scored 13 of the next 15 points. Rivers began the run with a putback, and Kelly scored on a dunk and then a drive. After Green hit a pair of free throws for Virginia Tech, Quinn Cook scored on a drive, Kelly swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Andre Dawkins scored inside for the Blue Devils, extending their lead to 34-23.
After a putback by Davila, Plumlee made two free throws, and the 6-foot Cook scored on a hook to make it 38-25.
Green's 3-pointer that just beat the first-half buzzer pulled the Hokies back within 10, but they got no closer.
Just to be sure, the Blue Devils put it away with a run that Rivers started with a 3-pointer, his third of four in the game. Plumlee added two free throws, Kelly scored on a spin move when he banked the ball in as he appeared to be falling down, and then followed with a 3-pointer.
The ending was a stark contrast from last season, when the Hokies' home victory against the Blue Devils brought fans storming onto the court to celebrate a victory that many thought assured their first NCAA tournament berth in four years. Instead, Greenberg's team lost its last two games of the regular season, won twice in the ACC tournament then lost to the Blue Devils in the semifinals and were again relegated to the NIT.
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