The Hokies just plain survived.Â They did their best to give this game away, but managed to pull a victory out of the jaws of defeat after 50 minutes.Â This is a game that will go down in the history of Cassell Coliseum as one of the great games ever played there, and VT found a way to win it.Â
After 20 minutes, you would have thought this would have been an average game.Â Tech led 34-26 at the break.Â But duquesne outscored the Hokies 52-44 in the second half.Â Tech had a 13 point lead with 6:40 left to go in the game, but the dukes promptly went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to two with 5:10 left in regulation (yes, it only took 90 seconds to cut the lead from 13 to two).Â duquesne led 77-74 with 46 seconds left, but two A.D. Vassallo free throws and a second chance runner tied the score.Â The Hokies stopped the dukes attempt to win the game at the end of the second half.
In the first overtime, once again, the Hokies built up a lead.Â Tech led 92-86 with just 48 seconds left, but two three-pointers from the dukes and two crucial missed free throws by Malcolm Delaney tied the score.Â Delaney set Virginia Tech’s record for free throws made in a season this year, but that’s how this game went.Â J.T. Thompson scored on a putback of a Vassallo miss with 10 seconds left, reversing the end of regulation, but duquesne’s Aaron Jackson hit a layup with 1.7 seconds left to send the game to double overtime.Â
Jackson scored 46 points in this game, and 40 of those points were scored after halftime.Â He set a record for most threes made against VT with eight, surpassing the seven made by miami’s Darius Rice in 2001. Jackson’s 46 points were just five short of the all time high against Tech, scored by Elgin Hayes of houston in 1968.
For the Hokies, A.D. Vassallo scored a career high 33 points and moved into fifth on the all time VT scoring list with 1810 points.Â He hit several clutch threes in the second half and overtime and nailed all 10 of his free throws.Â He also added a career high 12 rebounds, giving him his seventh double-double of his career.
Jeff Allen broke out of his slump and also added a double-double.Â He had 10 big first half points and finished the game with 23 points and 10 rebounds.Â This marked his ninth double-double of the season and 19th of his young career.
The third part of the Big 3 had a big second half.Â Malcolm Delaney, who had just two points at the half, finished with 20 points and 12/14 from the line (but the two crucial misses at the end of the first OT).
The Hokies shot nearly 60% from the field (59.4%) thanks to many easy buckets in the paint against the small, thin duquesne lineup, while the dukes shot 51% thanks mainly to red hot three point shooting.Â Â The story of the night was duquesne’s three point shooting.Â They hit 17/30 for the game (57%) and that includes missing 4/5 in the second overtime.Â Yes, they were 16/25 (64%) after 45 minutes.Â They could not miss.Â Whereas the Hokies dominated the game in the paint.Â
J.T. Thompson (21 points) and Dorenzo Hudson (15 points) also set career highs, meaning Tech saw three players set career highs in this game.Â Jackson’s 46 was his career high for duquesne as the senior fouled out late to finish his career.Â All five of Tech’s starters (Thompson started over Cheick Diakite) scored at least 15 points, while the Hokies got just four bench points.Â Every VT starter played at least 41 minutes.Â duquesne saw four guys reach double digits.
The 116 points by the Hokies mark the first time Tech has reached triple digits since 11/23/04 against md-eastern shore (102 points) and the 108 mark the first time VT has given up 100 since 1/30/05 – duke 100.Â Both point totals are highs in the Greenberg era.Â The 108 points against are the most by an opponent sinceÂ fsu scored 117 on 3/1/89 and this is the highest Hokie point total since VT beat southern miss 141-133 in double OT on 2/6/88.
Tech won their ninth straight NIT opener and 10th straight tournament opener in this game.Â The Hokies will look for their third consecutive 20 win season on Saturday morning at 11 AM in the Cassell against baylor, who overcame a 10 point halftime deficit to defeat georgetown on Wednesday night.Â It marked baylor’s first postseason win since 1950 (59 years).