User ID: Password:

March 10, 2011

ONE FOR THE AGES - On a day when ESPN's College GameDay makes its first trip to Blacksburg for basketball, the Hokies stun top-ranked Duke

By: Jimmy Robertson

Following the Hokies’ stunning victory over Duke on Feb. 26, Tech head coach Seth Greenberg went home and enjoyed a muted celebration with his family by eating cheese and crackers and enjoying a glass of red wine.

For sure, there’s nothing better than raising a toast to arguably the greatest day in Virginia Tech basketball history.

The day started with nearly 3,200 Tech students pouring into Cassell Coliseum to be a part of ESPN’s College GameDay, which made its first visit to Blacksburg for basketball. The day then ended with that many students, and many more, storming the court following Tech’s 64-60 triumph of the No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Blue Devils.

“We have great fans and to see them turn out [for College GameDay] was awesome,” Greenberg said. “In the end, you’ve got to play the game, and the game was the culmination of a great day. This was a heckuva day. It was a great day for Virginia Tech.”

“It feels great,” Tech guard Malcolm Delaney said. “We’ve beaten No. 1 before [Wake Forest in 2009], but beating No. 1 at home, with College GameDay here … this is probably the biggest game in our school history.”

Tech’s chances at pulling an upset took a dire turn midway through the second half. Some cold shooting – the Hokies scored two baskets in an eight-minute span – and steady play by Duke All-American Kyle Singler enabled the Blue Devils to open a six-point lead. Singler, who finished with 22 points, hit a 3-pointer with 11:08 left, and his two free throws with 7:44 to go gave Duke a 53-47 bulge, its biggest lead of the game.

But with that raucous crowd behind them, the Hokies answered. Jeff Allen buried a 3-pointer with 6:30 left, and that shot started a game-ending 17-7 run for Tech.

“Some of the guys on the team have been in this situation before,” Allen said. “We’ve been down. You take hits. We might have dropped our heads. Today, we didn’t drop our heads. They hit us with a shot, and we punched right back.”

“The crowd,” Tech guard Erick Green said as to how Tech came back. “The crowd got us into it. Coach told us some things, and we listened and dug in. It paid off.”

Tech got contributions from everyone down the stretch. Victor Davila’s monster follow dunk pulled the Hokies to within 55-52, and then Terrell Bell made the most important 3-pointer of his life, tying the game at 55 with 4:40 remaining, and the crowd erupted.

Malcolm Delaney had 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists in Tech’s win over Duke, as the Hokies beat a No. 1 team for the second time in three seasons.

Down the stretch, Delaney made arguably the biggest shot of the game. Tech led 59-57, and with the shot clock running down, Delaney drilled a 3-pointer with 2:01 left to push the lead back to five.

It was Delaney’s first and only 3-pointer of the game.

“I promised them [his teammates] I was going to get them one,” Delaney said. “I couldn’t hit a shot, but I was still confident.”

In the waning seconds – actually with 21.8 seconds to go – Allen hit the second of two free throws to give Tech a 63-60 lead. Duke called a timeout with 12.7 seconds left to set up a final play, but Seth Curry fumbled the ball away, and Allen corralled it.

Curry fouled him with under two seconds left, and Allen made the first of two free throws to account for the final margin. It marked the last of his 18 points, and he also grabbed 15 rebounds.

Once the final horn sounded, fans flooded the court.

“The feeling is unbelievable,” said Green, who finished with 11 points. “I can’t explain it. I’ve got so much going through my mind now and so much excitement going through me … it’s just a dream come true. To pick off No. 1 Duke, I just can’t explain it right now.”

“This group, to see them grow and to have this moment, you feel really good for them,” Greenberg said. “These kids have been through so much, and they haven’t gotten that reward. We had the grandest of stages. You don’t get any bigger than the stage we played on tonight. To see them grow and learn to trust each other, to me, that’s really rewarding.”