Buies Creek, NC – Seth Greenberg slammed his water bottle, threw his jacket and managed to coax his team to a 71-60 win at Campbell on Monday night. The Hokies played a bad game overall, particularly the starters, but they got some good performances from the bench to gradually pull away in the second half for the win. Tech is now 3-0 on the season, while Campbell dropped to 3-1.
The Hokies played part of the first half with some key players in foul trouble, particularly Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen. Allen only played 19 minutes in the game because of foul trouble in both halves, finishing with seven points and nine rebounds. He was not mentally into the game, according to Seth Greenberg’s postgame comments.
Delaney also picked up two fouls in the first half, but he played smart the rest of the way and avoided foul trouble in the second half. Delaney is not 100% due to an ankle injury suffered against UNC Greensboro, and he finished with just 15 points on 3-of-13 shooting. All three of his field goals came from behind the arc, and he was 6-of-8 from the free throw line. He also had an uncharacteristic four turnovers.
Delaney did have a notable accomplishment, becoming the 40th player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
The player of the game was J.T. Thompson, who came off the bench in place of Allen to play 27 minutes. Thompson scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds, including four offensive rebounds. He provided the spark the Hokies needed off the bench.
Erick Green was forced to play a lot as well, and he responded. In 18 minutes of action, the true freshman point guard scored seven points and was 2-of-3 from three-point range. Green also had two assists and a steal, and just one turnover. Fellow freshman Ben Boggs also hit a big three-pointer in the first half when the Hokies were struggling, keeping his team in the game.
Dorenzo Hudson was the third Hokie in double figures, finishing with 10 points, but he was just 3-of-9 from the field, including a missed breakaway dunk late in the game.
Tech was 24-of-54 (44.4%) from the field and 7-of-18 (38.9%) from three-point range. Their defense wasn’t particularly good, as Campbell was 22-of-44 (50%) from the field and 5-of-11 (45.5%) from three-point range. The good news is that the Hokies committed just 11 turnovers while forcing 15.
The game got off to a good start for the Hokies, as they jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. However, as the first half progressed and the foul trouble kicked in, Tech began to lose mental focus.
Campbell led by as many as five points in the first half. A layup by Jonathan Rodriguez with 2:47 remaining gave the Camels a 29-24 lead. Seth Greenberg was so frustrated with his team’s play in the first half that he called three timeouts in a two-minute span between the 5:47 and 3:44 marks.
Tech finally responded to Greenberg’s pleadings by going on an 8-2 run before halftime. It was led by the Hokies’ top players off the bench, Erick Green and J.T. Thompson. First Green hit one-of-two free throw attempts, and then J.T. Thompson tipped in Green’s missed free throw. That made the score 29-27 Campbell with 1:53 remaining in the half.
Campbell’s Preston Dodson responded by scoring to put his team up back up by four, but Erick Green drained a three-pointer to bring the Hokies within one, 31-30. Thompson made it happen right before halftime, nailing a three-pointer on an assist by Green to make the score 33-31 Tech heading into the intermission.
Thanks to the late heroics by Green and Thompson, the Hokies went into halftime with the lead, despite the fact that they were outplayed for much of the first half.
Tech was still in a battle in the second half. The game was tied on three occasions in the final 20 minutes, and Campbell held the lead three times. Eventually the Hokies were able to get back up on the scoreboard and pull away down the stretch.
With the Camels leading 46-45 with 10:27 remaining, Malcolm Delaney stepped to the free throw line and hit two big shots, putting his team up for good. It was still a one-point game, 52-51, when Delaney hit a three-pointer with 5:58 left to make the score 55-51. The three-pointer put Delaney over 1,000 points for his career, and right after Delaney scored, Campbell’s William Kossangue fouled Tech’s Terrell Bell. Bell went to the free throw line and sank both free throws, giving the Hokies a rare five-point play and a 57-51 lead.
Dorenzo Hudson hit a fast break layup to extend the run to 7-0 and give the Hokies a 59-51 lead. The closest Campbell came the rest of the way was five points.
Though Seth Greenberg was obviously angry with his team’s performance on the postgame radio show, there are some positives to take away. Tech’s only two proven scorers, Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen, spent time on the bench with foul trouble. Allen only played 19 minutes. Tech needed someone to step up and pick up the scoring struggles, and they got that from J.T. Thompson and Erick Green.
This was also a road win in a hostile environment in which the team faced adversity, and that could be important as the season progresses. This was the first time Campbell had ever hosted an ACC team, and the attendance for the game was above the maximum capacity of their new arena.
We’ll have a better idea about where the Hokies stand following this weekend’s event in Philadelphia. Tech takes on Temple this Friday at 8pm on Comcast SportsNet, while Saturday’s game with Delaware will be at 6:15 and will not be televised. Virginia Tech has never started a season 5-0 under Seth Greenberg.