Virginia Tech downed Duquesne 116-108 in an exciting double overtime game in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. Three Hokies set their career high in points, and all five starters scored in double figures. Tech will return to action on Saturday morning at 11am when they host a second round NIT matchup against Baylor.
A.D. Vassallo had a career night in several categories. He finished with 33 points and 12 rebounds in 47 minutes of action, all career highs. Vassallo also dished out five assists and blocked three shots. He was 10-of-19 from the field, and his floater in the lane with 13 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
J.T. Thompson had a career high in points (21), minutes (41), field goals made (9) and field goals attempted (12). Dorenzo Hudson also had a career high 15 points, and tied a career high with five made field goals.
Jeff Allen had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Tech, while Malcolm Delaney added 20 points and dished out nine assists.
As a team, the Hokies were 38-of-64 (59.4%) from the field, 7-of-17 (41.2%) from three-point range, and 33-of-40 (82.5%) from the free throw line. It was just enough to hold off Duquesne and star point guard Aaron Jackson. Jackson 46 points in 45 minutes. He was 15-of-25 from the field and 8-of-13 from three-point range. His 46 points was the most ever by an opponent in Cassell Coliseum.
Virginia Tech was able to win the game thanks to superior size and good ball movement. Duquesne doesn’t start a player bigger than 6-7, 210, and the Hokies outmuscled them for 37 rebounds and a whopping 56 points in the paint. Tech also had 22 assists as a team, and only committed 10 turnovers in 50 minutes of basketball.
Duquesne played stall ball in the first half, running a four corners offense and waiting until there were approximately 10 seconds left on the shot clock to run their plays. The strategy worked for awhile, as the game was tied at 23 with just 4:38 left in the first half. This didn’t have the looks of a high scoring game early on.
The Hokies then went on a quick 9-0 run to take a 32-23 lead, and they went into the halftime intermission leading 34-26. The Dukes were in the game, but Virginia Tech appeared firmly in control.
That’s how things continued to go for most of the second half. Duquesne never got within five points points in the first 14 minutes of the half, and a Malcolm Delaney three-pointer with 7:07 left made the score 66-53 Hokies. Tech appeared ready to pull away and run the Dukes off the court.
Duquense had a big 17-4 run left in them however, and sparked by Aaron Jackson and Eric Evans, they tied the game at 70 with 3:45 to play. Jackson only scored six points in the first half, but he began to heat up in the latter stages of the game, and his play, along with that of Evans, got the Dukes back in it.
Not only did they get back in it, they took the lead and looked all set to win the game. Melquan Bolding went to the free throw line with 28 seconds remaining, with his team up 77-76. All he had to do was hit both free throws, and it would have taken a three-pointer by the Hokies to tie it. However, Bolding made just one of two shots, and the Hokies got one last chance down 78-76.
Tech got the ball to J.T. Thompson down low on their final possession, but his shot was no good, and the loose ball bounced back to A.D. Vassallo near the three-point line. Vassallo picked it up and drove down a wide open lane for a running floater that tied the game at 78 with 13 seconds left.
The Dukes got one more chance, but Eric Evans’ layup was blocked by Jeff Allen, and the buzzer sounded, sending the game to overtime.
Virginia Tech took control of overtime early, with Dorenzo Hudson scoring four quick points to give his team an 82-78 lead. The Hokies led by six points with 48 seconds remaining, but Eric Evans hit a three-pointer to cut that lead to 92-89. Tech still had a chance to put the game away with 28 seconds remaining, but Malcolm Delaney uncharacteristically missed two free throws, and Aaron Jackson then nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 92 with 22 seconds left.
Back came the Hokies, and they went up 94-92 with 10 seconds remaining after a J.T. Thompson layup. However, the pesky Dukes refused to go away, and Aaron Jackson drove to the basket and tied the game on a layup of his own with just over one second to play, sending it to double overtime.
Jackson picked up where he left off in the second overtime, scoring on another drive to make the score 96-94 Duquesne. However, A.D. Vassallo answered with a three-pointer, and his shot was the beginning of a 10-1 run that iced the game for the Hokies.
The run was capped when Dorenzo Hudson leaped and stole and inbounds passed, then kicked it ahead to J.T. Thompson for a breakaway dunk. That made the score 104-97, and Duquesne could get no closer than five points the rest of the way. The Hokies led by as many as 11 points as they iced the game at the free throw line down the stretch.
Virginia Tech returns to action in the second round of the NIT on Saturday morning at 11am. They will take on the Baylor Bears, a #3 seed, who knocked off Georgetown on Wednesday night. The game will be televised by ESPN.