Highlights up by 1 AM | Boxscore
This was a resume building opportunity for the Hokies, even if the gophers were without two of their best players in Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III. But Tech couldn’t get it done as the lost in the final seconds, 58-55.
Tech got all it could handle in the first half from 6-11 freshman Elliott Eliason. The towering rookie kept the Hokies out of the paint for much of the half until he picked up his second personal foul.
When Eliason left the game, the gophers were leading. By the end of the half, the Hokies had surged ahead to take a 28-25 halftime lead behind 12 points from junior Eric Green and 8 points from freshman Robert Brown off the bench.
Senior Dorenzo Hudson was held scoreless the entire game, and freshman Dorian Finney-Smith managed only three points.
The second half was a back and forth affair, with the gophers using a 10-4 run to take a lead in the early minutes of the half. The Hokies tied the game at 51 with 3 minutes to play when Doe Doe scored his first and only points of the game — a three from the corner. Green gave the Hokies the lead back, 53-51.
Green scored again after minnesota tied it at 53. The Green Machine, who led the Hokies with 25 points, got a tough layup with :25 to play to give VT a lead. However, Green fell off the elevated court at the other end with 18.9 seconds left and appeared injured.
Meanwhile, minnesota hit two free throws to take a 56-55 lead. The Hokies, with a banged up Green checking back into the game, called a timeout with 9.9 seconds left. On the inbounds pass, however, Robert Brown fumbled the pass into the back court, committing the turnover.
Tech fouled immediately, sending the gophers to the line where they hit both free throws to push their lead to 58-55. Green got a good 3-point shot off at the buzzer that would have tied the game, but it hit the back of the rim and fell away. Game over. And a key resume building opportunity was wasted.
***** NIEMO’S THOUGHTS (Think of it as the Recap, Part Two) *****
Virginia Tech fell off the cliff… literally… in the final 30 seconds and lost a heartbreaker to a short-handed minnesota team 58-55 in the ACC/Big(12)Ten Challenge. Tech falls to 2-5 all time in the Challenge, with both wins against iowa.
In what was a see-saw game the final 22 minutes, Tech took a 55-54 lead with 26 seconds left on an Erick Green putback. But the gophers pushed the ball up the court and that’s when the insanity ensued. For those of you that are not familiar with ‘The Barn’ minnesota plays in, the court is a good two-feet above the stands and benches. As Julian Welch drove to the hoop for a shot, Green elevated and blocked the shot. Green then fell awkwardly and literally slid off the court, over the edge, and likely hit the metal stairs (yeah, that makes sense to have them right behind the basket) with his right (shooting) shoulder. To make matters worse, Welch grabbed the block, got fouled, and promptly sank both free throws to put minnesota up 56-55. Green laid on the floor (ie: the stand’s floor) for several minutes and went to the bench holding his right shoulder nearly in tears from the pain.
After a ball was deflected out of bounds, Tech called their final timeout and Erick, being the warrior he is, re-entered the game. VT inbounded the ball to Robert Brown who fumbled the ball into the backcourt. In what was a questionable call since he never had possession in the frontcourt, the officials ruled it over-and-back and gave the gophers the ball.
After Welch sank two more free throws with 6.5 seconds left, Erick Green rushed the ball up the court and launched a 3-pointer to tie as time expired. But the ball rolled around and off the rim, sending the Hokies to defeat.
Erick was the star of the game for Tech. He scored 25 points on 9/19 shooting and 4/8 from deep. He also added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, a block and 0 turnovers.
The big news was the absence of Dorian Finney-Smith and Dorenzo Hudson. Both played, according to the scorebook, at least, but not on the court. Dorenzo Hudson put up a big goose egg, 0 points on 0/4 shooting. And Doe Doe had just 3 points, although they came on a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 51 with 3:47 to go. If I had to guess, I’d say Zo is worn down from how much VT has been playing lately while getting his legs out, while tonight showed again how easy it is to shut down DFS if you play good defense and keep him off the offensive glass.
It was a game of runs in the first half. minnesota opened to an 8-0 lead, forcing Seth to burn a TO. But the Hokies battled back and took a 28-25 lead into the break thanks to an 11-3 run to close the half. Brown had two 3s and Green a 3-point play to fuel the run. But the second half was similar to the first — a slow start for the Hokies.
minnesota played without their two best post players. Trevor Mbakwe, their leading scorer, is out for the season with an ACL injury, while Ralph Sampson III, also a senior and 6’11″, was out with an ankle injury. Yet the gophers absolutely dominated VT in the paint. 6’11″ freshman Elliott Eliason, who looks like a cross between Lurch from Addams Family and a ‘before’ person in a proactive commercial for Sasquatches, had 8 points and 7 rebounds.
Welch led minnesota with 15, while super athlete Rodney Williams had 14 on 6/7 shooting. For some reason Tech tried fronting him, allowing the gophers to easily feed the ball over the D for layups or dunks.
The gophers were awful from deep, hitting just 2/13. They are an awful 3-point shooting team. So I’m not sure why VT didn’t play more 2-3 zone and get guys inside, especially since they were getting burned off the dribble.
Meanwhile, 3s were the only thing keeping Tech in the game. Tech hit 8/17, including 7 of their final 11. Brown was 3/3 from deep and scored 13 points. 15 of Tech’s 27 points in the second half came from behind the arc.
Victor Davila also had a solid game, at least on the offensive end. He tallied 10 points, his second straight game in double figures.
Well, here we are. It is tough winning on the road, and this was Tech’s first road game. But this is a team that is just now adjusting to losing their best player, and also were without another key. This is a bad loss, in my opinion. I don’t foresee minnesota being a top 100 team in the RPI by the end of the season. And either way, there’s no such thing as good losses in terms of the Tournament. Tech really needs to beat kansas state in the Cassell Sunday at 5:30 PM… let’s hope Green is OK.