But when it counted most, the former McEachern High School star dug down to find enough quickness to create — and make — Georgia Tech’s most important shot of its postseason opener.
Golden’s three-point play with 35.3 seconds left in overtime helped the Yellow Jackets beat Boston College 73-70 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Robert Carter Jr. had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Marcus Georges-Hunt added 18 points and Golden — who has been fighting a nagging groin injury — finished with 14 points for the 11th-seeded Yellow Jackets (16-16).
“That shot that (Golden) made to win us the game ... two weeks ago, he couldn’t make that play,” coach Brian Gregory said. “He’s not as explosive as he was earlier in the year, but at least every once in a while he was able to turn up the gear, and he was able to do that on that play.”
Georgia Tech blew a 13-point lead with just over 8 minutes left and went roughly 10 minutes between field goals in regulation and OT before regrouping to claim its first ACC tournament win since its run to the 2010 title game.
Georgia Tech will play sixth-seeded Clemson (19-11) in the second round tonight.
Patrick Heckmann scored 21 points and Olivier Hanlan added 16 for the 14th-seeded Eagles (8-24), who got back in the game by reeling off 12 straight points late in regulation but ended the season by losing five of six.
“We got our chances to make shots in overtime,” Hanlan said, “but (they weren’t) going down.”
Golden ended Tech’s lengthy shooting drought in the final minute of overtime, driving down the lane and banking in a jumper through contact from Heckmann to put the Yellow Jackets ahead to stay. His free throw gave Tech a 69-67 lead.
“It’s something you’re feeling when you look up ... and they’re up a point and you need a basket,” Golden said. “You do feel a great sense of urgency knowing it could be your last college game.”
Boston College then got the ball inside to Ryan Anderson, who missed a contested hook shot that would’ve tied it.
Kammeon Holsey hit four free throws in the final 14.7 seconds to make it 73-67 before Joe Rahon hit a meaningless 3 at the buzzer for BC.
Anderson finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Eagles, who wrapped up their third straight losing season by being denied their third ACC tournament victory since 2009.
“We did an incredible job of executing down the stretch, and for whatever reason, Georgia Tech had the answer at the end,” BC coach Steve Donahue said. “But it’s not like, ‘You guys just totally folded at the end.’ It’s not that. It’s a combination of things that I don’t think you can just put one swipe of the brush and say, ‘That’s why.’”
The Eagles had a prime chance to win it in regulation when Hanlan — Boston College’s leading scorer — went to the line for two free throws with 5.2 seconds left and the Eagles down by one.
His first attempt bounced off the back iron, and he made the second to tie it at 62.
Golden took the inbounds pass for Georgia Tech and raced down the right sideline but couldn’t get a shot off because Garland Owens stripped him at the buzzer.
Holsey had 12 points for Georgia Tech, which led 55-42 after the second of consecutive three-point plays by Georges-Hunt with just over 8 minutes remaining.
Carter made it 61-49 when he tipped in Golden’s miss with 5:28 left in regulation — but the Yellow Jackets didn’t hit another field goal until Golden’s three-point play in the final minute of OT.
“I think we missed some shots we normally make,” Golden said. “Sometimes that happens. But I feel like we made the plays we needed to get the win, and that’s all that matters.”
Heckmann scored seven points during BC’s game-tightening 12-0 run, and he capped it with a free throw with 52 seconds left in regulation that made it 61-all.