Florida State's Terrance Shannon (15) dunks against Virginia Tech in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Seth Greenberg told his Virginia Tech players something special would happen for them against Florida State.
When it was over, the coach had tears rolling down his cheeks while the Hokies celebrated around him on the court after a stunning finish.
Erick Green hit the go-ahead jumper with 4.7 seconds left, while Derwin Kitchen's seemingly beautiful game-winning shot at the buzzer from 23 feet out was waved off as Virginia Tech edged the Seminoles 52-51 in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Friday night.
On a day that began with North Carolina rallying from 19 down in the second half to beat Miami with a buzzer-beating layup, the Hokies capped the four-game schedule at the Greensboro Coliseum by rallying from 11 down to set up a replay-reviewed finish that fans of either team won't soon forget.
"I talked to them before the game about resiliency and perseverance," Greenberg said. "They took it to a little bit of an extreme, but that's who they've been. They haven't made excuses. They just play."
The sixth-seeded Hokies (21-10) entered the tournament hoping to bolster their NCAA tournament chances, which appeared solid after a resume-enhancing win against Duke two weeks ago only to become shaky again after losses to Boston College and Clemson to close the regular season.
Now they're heading into Saturday's semifinals after two tournament victories with another shot at the fifth-ranked Blue Devils.
Green had made just 1 of 12 shots before taking a feed from Malcolm Delaney and calmly sinking a jumper near the 3-point arc. The third-seeded Seminoles (21-10) called timeout and inbounded to Kitchen, who drove into the right corner and launched a fadeaway over a defender at the horn.
The ball dropped through the net and the officials initially called it good, sending the Seminoles spilling onto the court to mob Kitchen in celebration. Meanwhile, Delaney and Green walked to midcourt with their hands on their heads in disbelief.
But officials soon sent both teams back to their benches while they reviewed whether the shot came in time at the scorer's table. Replays on the scoreboard display were difficult to discern, with Kitchen appearing to have maybe a finger on the ball when the horn sounded.
Virginia Tech's Jeff Allen leaned over with his hands on his knees while TV cameras gathered in front of the Hokies to capture their reaction. Meanwhile, fans for both teams kept chanting and cheering in an agonizing delay of about 3 minutes.
"Those last seconds, it kind of scared me at the end because I really didn't know what was going on," Green said. "I couldn't even look at the screen or anything. I just turned my head and put my head down and just was waiting to see what the call was going to be."
Finally, official Bryan Kersey turned and waved the basket off, sending the Hokies sprinting around the court in celebration after thinking the game was lost only moments earlier.
"I thought I got it off in time," Kitchen said, "but the replay showed otherwise."
While the Hokies celebrated, the Seminoles headed back to the locker room after a wild emotional swing.
"There's nothing you can do about it," FSU junior Bernard James said. "It's a huge letdown, but it really wasn't the last play that lost us the game. It was our performance throughout the game, the turnovers and us not being aggressive."
Delaney scored 16 points and Manny Atkins had 14 for Virginia Tech, which shot just 32 percent -- including a miserable 5 for 28 (18 percent) in the first half -- before finding a way to pull this one out. Green finished with just seven points as the Hokies became the first team to use only six players in an ACC tournament game since North Carolina State did it in the championship game 14 years ago.
James had 11 points for the Seminoles, who maintained at least a two-possession lead for most of the second half. Florida State committed 20 turnovers that led to 19 points for the Hokies to help them overcome their shooting woes.
That included when Allen ripped the ball away from Michael Snaer during a double-team trap at halfcourt with about 20 seconds left to set up Green's basket.
"We did everything we could do to win," Delaney said. "Whichever way it went, it was a tenth of a second."