A.D. Vassallo notched his first double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Hokies’ poor first half, the absence of Hank Thorns, an injured J.T. Thompson, and of course, the duke factor, i.e. questionable calls as Tech fell to No. 7 duke, 65-72.
The Hokies managed just five points in the first 10 minutes of the game and fell behind 20-5 midway through the half and trailed by as many at 16 (16-32). Malcolm Delaney only scored 7 points on 2/12 shooting from the field and 0/6 from 3-point range; but he played all 40 minutes, had 8 assists and only 3 turnovers. Thorns missed the game because of illness (still dehydrated from the clemson game apparently) and duke took full advantage of his absence by denying Delaney the ball the entire game.
Thompson sprained his knee on a dunk in the win over clemson and was slightly better than 80 percent (his words) before this game. He came off the bench and scored 13 points, just two shy of his season high of 15 vs. charleston southern. Cheick Diakite recorded a DNP (did not play) in this game – only the second game in which he has not played this season.
Vassallo, who is 10th on Tech all-time scoring list, scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half, including a streak of 15 straight Tech points during a 15-4 run that pulled the Hokies into a 58-58 tie. Vassallo was simply unstoppable during that run and the Cassell was going nuts. But, after knotting the game at 58 with 5:59 to play, Tech went without a point for 4 minutes, 47 seconds.
The dookies only scored one field goal in the final six minutes, but hit 10/12 free throws to put the game away. The Hokies, without Thorns, couldn’t get a good open look for Delaney or Vassallo in the final minutes.
As has been par for the course when playing the evil empire, the officials gave duke just about every call and then some, let coach k manipulate them and allow their players to get away with so much holding, reach-ins and over-the-backs, it was laughable. I couldn’t find any official stats, but I counted SEVEN charges called against the Hokies including two in the final minutes that killed the their momentum. At one point, head coach Seth Greenberg slammed a water bottle to the floor and came dangerously close to getting a technical.
Additionally, with the Hokies trailing by four with about 22 seconds to play, dook inbounded the ball along the baseline and the Hokies swarmed trying to get the foul. Two Hokies were trying to get a held ball call and in the process were mugging the dook player, but the refs didn’t call anything. Finally, after 8 seconds ran off the clock, coach k called a time out. Again, Greenberg was livid. After calling ticky-tack calls all night, the Hokies were trying to foul and the refs decided to let them play.
The bottom line is the the Hokies came back from a 16-point deficit minus Hank Thorns who was coming off his best game of the season and a key contributor, Thompson, playing hurt. Add to that Jeff Allen’s foul trouble and it’s amazing the game was as close as it was. Now Tech needs to win at least one of their final two regular season games to ensure at least a .500 record in conference play.
With today’s loss the Hokies have been officially eliminated from getting a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament and will play on day one. Their next game is Wednesday, March 4, at home against unc, which crushed georgia tech today, 104-74. Game time is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.
Delaney attempted a Hail Mary three pointer at the end of regulation in an attempt to keep his double-digit scoring streak alive … he missed. His 7 points marks the first time all season he has failed to score 10 or more in a game. The last time Delaney scored fewer than 10 points was March 9, 2008 at clemson when he had 3 points. Since that game, he had scored in double-digits in 32 straight games.