Clutch Free Throw Shooting Leads Tech Past Mount St. Mary’s

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Virginia Tech struggled again offensively, but a late game rally and some clutch free throw shooting by Malcolm Delaney gave the Hokies a 62-57 win over Mount St. Mary’s on Monday night. Tech is 2-0 on the season, and they’ll now travel to San Juan to take part in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off.

This game was a defensive struggle that saw both teams miss numerous point blank looks at the basket, particularly the Hokies. Tech was just 15-of-45 (33.3%) from the field. They did hit 5-of-14 (35.7%) from three-point range. The biggest difference in the game was free throw shooting. The Hokies were 27-of-32 (84.4%) from the charity stripe, while The Mount was just 9-of-13 (69.2%).

Malcolm Delaney was particularly clutch down the stretch. The sophomore guard paced Tech with 18 points, 13 of which came from the free throw line. He was 13-of-15 from the line, including 10-of-11 over the last 1:40 of the game. Delaney also had a team-high three steals in 29 minutes of action.

Jeff Allen narrowly missed a double-double, chipping in with 13 points and nine boards. A.D. Vassallo added 15 points and six rebounds. He was 5-of-10 from the field overall, and 3-of-6 from three-point range.

Virginia Tech still lacks production from the other wing position opposite Vassallo. Dorenzo Hudson and Terrell Bell combined for just two points, and those were the first points of the game by the Hokies.

Lewis Witcher and Cheick Diakite combined to score six points and grab five rebounds in 26 minutes of action. The good news is that freshman forward Victor Davila played his first significant minutes of the season, and had a solid game. Davila scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in 18 minutes. He was tenacious on the offensive glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds.

Virginia Tech’s half court offense continues to be a work in progress. The Hokies turned the ball over 20 times, four each by A.D. Vassallo and Jeff Allen. They also had just nine assists. Making quick decisions with the ball and making solid entry passes into the post continues to be a problem for Tech’s perimeter players.

Despite the less than stellar performance, it was still a come-from-behind win against a team that made the NCAA tournament last year, and is a strong candidate to do so again this year. The Hokies trailed 24-23 at halftime, with 12 of their 23 points coming from A.D. Vassallo.

Tech’s offense continued to struggle into the second half. With 9:15 remaining in the game, The Mount led 43-35, and the Hokies had scored just two field goals over the previous six minutes of the game.

However, the Hokies played stronger down the stretch on Monday than they did on Friday against Gardner-Webb. Two free throws by Jeff Allen with 4:31 remaining in the game tied the score at 46. The Mount didn’t go way though, instead going on a 6-0 run to take a 52-46 lead with 2:22 remaining in the game. Things were getting dicey, and the Hokies didn’t have much time left.

Malcolm Delaney answered quickly. At the 2:12 mark, he drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead in half, and after he hit a free throw to cut the lead to two, he found a wide open A.D. Vassallo for a three-pointer at the 1:34 mark to put Tech up 53-52.

The Mount responded with two free throws to go back up 54-53, but that turned out to be their final lead of the game. Malcolm Delaney was fouled while attempting a three-pointer on Tech’s next possession, and his three free throws put the Hokies up 56-54 with 52 seconds remaining.

After Jeremy Goode missed a three-pointer on Mount St. Mary’s ensuing possession, the Mountaineers had to start fouling. The Hokies did a good job of getting it in to Delaney down the stretch, who hit six free throws over the final 28 seconds to preserve the win. Delaney scored 13 of Tech’s final 16 points in the game.

Virginia Tech returns to action on Thursday, when they take on Fairfield in the opening round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The game will begin at 11am, and it will be televised by ESPNU.

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