BLACKSBURG, Va. — On a night when his shot wasn’t falling from the field and his team needed him to score, Malcolm Delaney was pleased to count on his old reliable: free throws.
Delaney made all 13 of his foul shots in the second half Wednesday night, including 11 in the final eight minutes when Georgia Tech rallied, and lifted Virginia Tech to a 76-71 victory.
Delaney was just 4-for-12 from the field, but finished 14-for-15 at the line for 23 points. For the season, he’s gone to the line 178 times and made 155, or 87 percent.
"The coaches told me I had to get to the line in the second half, so I did a lot more attacking than shooting 3s," he said. "I knew I had to go to another part of my game."
Delaney scored nine in a four-minute stretch late in the game as Virginia Tech extended a three-point lead to as many as 12, but the Hokies still had to hang on when the Yellow Jackets came out of a 3-point shooting funk. Georgia Tech made three from long range in just over two minutes.
The Yellow Jackets had missed 11 of their first 12 tries from behind the arc, and only stayed in the game because of a press that caused 14 turnovers and gave the Hokies trouble.
"They made the game a little bit of a scrum," said A.D. Vassallo, who added 18 points for the Hokies. "They had us running around and we were trying to figure out who was open."
Jeff Allen added 15 points and nine rebounds — almost all of it in the first half — for the Hokies (16-7, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their second straight after losing two in a row. Cheick Diakite had 10 points and seven rebounds, and hit a big jumper with 5:29 left.
It was the third consecutive loss and the eighth in nine games for the Yellow Jackets (10-13, 1-9), who dropped a half-game behind 1-8 Virginia and into last place in the conference.
"We have been doing some really good things defensively, we’re rebounding the ball well and we’re giving ourselves a chance," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "There’s some shots that we need to knock down. ... We’ve just got to find a way just to close games out."
Gani Lawal led Georgia Tech with 23 points and eight rebounds and Alade Aminu scored 13.
The Hokies opened their biggest lead at 50-37 on two free throws by Diakite with 14:54 left, then got sloppy. They turned it over on five consecutive possessions without getting off a shot as the Yellow Jackets scored 10 straight points to close to within 50-47.
The Hokies’ lead was still three with nine minutes left before Vassallo hit a 3-pointer and two free throws, Delaney hit six consecutive free throws and Diakite beat the shot clock with a jumper from the foul line, restoring the Hokies’ advantage to 65-54 with 5:29 left.
Two 3-pointers by Iman Shumpert and another by Lance Storrs pulled the Yellow Jackets to within 72-67 with 1:53 left, and Aminu’s putback after a Hokies turnover made it 72-69.
"That unfortunately has been the story for us," Hewitt said. "We’ve had a couple of chances the last couple of games to hit a 3 that could really have stretched the game out."