Cancun, Mexico – Virginia Tech came up with an unexpected win on Saturday night, beating favored Seton Hall 103-94 in overtime without leading scorer Malcolm Delaney. The Hokies moved to 12-1 on the season with the win in Cancun, continuing their best start since they began the 1995-96 season with a 12-1 record. The Pirates dropped to 9-4 with the loss. They have close losses to #19 Temple, #5 Syracuse, #6 West Virginia (in overtime), and now Virginia Tech.
With Delaney out, the Hokies needed multiple players to step up and make plays. No one stepped up more than junior wing Dorenzo Hudson, who finished with a career-high 41 points. Hudson was 9-of-22 from the field, 3-of-7 from three-point range and an amazing 20-of-21 from the free throw line. He now holds the Virginia Tech record for most free throws made in a single game.
Hudson also dished out five assists and had three rebounds. He had to run the point quite a bit on Saturday night, and he did an admirable job.
Besides shouldering the burden offensively for Tech, Hudson also had to guard Seton Hall star guard Jeremy Hazell. Hazell was averaging 38.5 points per game in his last two outings against West Virginia and Syracuse. He scored 24 points against Tech, though Hudson’s defense was generally good. Hazell hit some great shots with Hudson right in his face.
Overall, Hudson was asked to do a lot against the Pirates, and he responded in ways that no one saw coming.
A big key to this game was Jeff Allen staying out of foul trouble. The junior forward played 38 minutes and scored 23 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. Last season against Seton Hall, he scored 17 points and had 17 rebounds.
Allen had an easier time than usual because Seton Hall star big man Herb Pope spent much of the game in foul trouble. Pope entered the game averaging a double-double, but he played just 18 minutes against Tech, finishing with three points and five rebounds.
Seton Hall has been a good rebounding team for most of the season, but the Hokies outrebounded the Pirates 40-36. As a team, Tech also shot 36-of-43 (83.7%) from the free throw line. Tech had a number of players step up and play well, besides Hudson and Allen.
Manny Atkins finished with eight points, and he hit two big baskets late in the game. He drained an open three-pointer from the left wing, and followed that up with a breakaway dunk. Terrell Bell had four points and six rebounds, and had a big putback late in the game. He also gave great effort blocking a shot in what appeared to be an easy breakaway layup for Seton Hall. Victor Davila finished with eight points and six rebounds, including a rim-rocking follow up slam off a missed shot in the closing minutes. Erick Green played 32 minutes at point guard and scored seven points, knocking down a big three-pointer against the zone defense.
Tech got more comfortable offensively as the game went along. After shooting just 10-of-29 (34.5%) in the first half, they improved to 14-of-28 (50%) in the second half. They capped it off by going 7-of-9 (77.8%) in the overtime period. For the game, Tech shot exactly 47% from the field.
Though the Hokies led by as many as 14 points in the first half, this game was nip and tuck for most of the way. Tech had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Erick Green missed two free throws with 18 seconds remaining. Seton Hall point guard Eugene Harvey responded by tying the game at 80 with a layup with 15 seconds left, and neither team could manage to snag the win in the final seconds.
The overtime period was a different story. The Hokies came out like a team possessed from the very beginning. Tech scored the first five points of overtime and never trailed from that point. They scored 18 points over the final two minutes of the game to clinch the win.
Victor Davila got the run started by following up a miss by Dorenzo Hudson with a big dunk to make the score 87-82 with 1:54 remaining. After a jumper by Eugene Harvey, Dorenzo Hudson grabbed an offensive rebound in the lane and hit a floater to make the score 89-84 with 1:26 left.
However, Seton Hall did not go away. They cut the lead to 89-87 with 1:18 left, and then Manny Atkins came up with two big plays. The first was a three-pointer from the left wing that put Tech up 92-87 with 1:01 remaining. After the Pirates answered with a three-pointer of their own, Atkins beat the Seton Hall defense up the court for a breakaway dunk that gave the Hokies a 94-90 lead with 44 seconds showing on the clock.
Seton Hall missed their next two field goals, and Tech took advantage.
Jeff Allen and Ben Boggs both went to the line and connected on four straight free throws, putting the Hokies up 98-90 with 31 seconds left. That was all she wrote, as Tech went on to lead by as many as 11 points before Eugene Harvey put in a meaningless layup with one second left. The Hokies walked out of Cancun with a 103-94 win over a Big East team.
Malcolm Delaney’s status for future games is still unknown, but he and the Hokies will now get a week off to rest. They will return to action next Sunday night, January 10, at North Carolina in the Dean Dome for their ACC opener.