Dorenzo Hudson was Virginia Tech’s point man versus UConn, literally, but the Hokies’ second-round National Invitational Tournament win Monday, March 22 can be credited to a tight, well-coordinated team.
The final score was 65-63.
“I feel like we can beat anybody, with anybody [on our team] having a bad night,” said Hudson, whose 12 field goals were a career high. “I feel like we always have somebody who’s going to step up. We just pick up the slack when somebody else is struggling.”
Their coach agrees.
“In any tournament, that was a high-level basketball game,” Tech Coach Seth Greenberg said. “The resiliency and toughness and competitive spirit of this team never ceases to amaze me. They’re just an amazing group. Keeping their composure, their ability to make plays down the stretch, their ability to get stops.”
UConn Coach Jim Calhoun, while not happy about the outcome, gave the opposing team credit for a game well played.
“They made a big shot down the stretch,” Calhoun said. “That’s obviously part of the game. Seth’s obviously done a great job down here. That was, of all the things that have happened this year, heart-breaking for us because I thought we out-worked them, but it was a tight game.
“They’re a terrific team, a young team and they all come back next year, so they look to be one of the top teams in the ACC, if not a top-25 team.”
Hudson, who finished with 27 points, is still playing at less than 100 percent because of a bone bruise in his foot that limits his practice time.
Center Victor Davila contracted food poisoning over the weekend, but battled UConn’s assembly line of big men for 29 minutes and sank four immense free throws in the final two minutes.
“He showed up here at five,” Greenberg said, “took an IV and played his heart out.”
Terrell Bell managed just six points, but forced UConn guard Jerome Dyson into a turnover near midcourt with 22.4 seconds remaining and the Huskies clinging to a 1-point lead.
Tech turned that next possession into Hudson’s game-winning shot and Bell also grabbed the Hokies’ final rebound, following a potential game-winning follow shot by Gavin Edwards.
“He makes winning plays that don’t show up in the box score,” Greenberg said.
Jeff Allen, relatively quiet all night, got a key block against UConn guard Kemba Walker in the final seconds.
He set the screen that freed Hudson for the game-winner. A couple of minutes earlier, he grabbed a critical offensive rebound and made 1-of-2 free throws to pull the Hokies within 59-58.
J.T. Thompson scored all 10 of his points in the first half, and kept the Hokies afloat offensively when UConn appeared capable of pulling away.
Even reserve guard Erick Green, who played all of one minute at the end of the first half, contributed.
He pushed the ball down court in the final seconds and found a wide-open Thompson, who made just his third 3-pointer all season and gave the Hokies momentum heading into halftime.
Tech played the Huskies to a push on the boards (36-35) and out-rebounded UConn over the final 30 minutes.
The Hokies also committed just three turnovers in the final 30 minutes after a relatively sloppy start.
Tech sits one game away from a trip to New York and the NIT final four, despite a 6-point, 2-for-14 shooting performance from lead guard Malcolm Delaney.
The Hokies face Rhode Island on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum.
Posted March 23, 2010 – Edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan
[Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services]