Hokies shock No. 5 Duke on the road
By Jimmy Robertson
January 6, 2007 DURHAM, N.C. - Jamon Gordon hit a tough shot in overtime, and Deron Washington blocked a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer to help the Virginia Tech men's basketball team register a stunning 69-67 overtime victory over the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils in an Atlantic Coast Conference game played at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday afternoon. With the win, Tech improved to 11-4 overall on the season, 2-0 in the ACC. The win marked Tech's first ever over the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium (0-13 coming in) and the Hokies' first victory over a top-five team since Feb. 1st 1986 when they downed No. 2 Memphis State 76-72 at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg. Tech also knocked off a top-five team on that opponent's home floor for the first time since Dec. 1st, 1962 when the Hokies beat No. 3 Kentucky 80-77 in Lexington, Ky. Duke fell to 13-2 overall and lost its ACC opener for the first time in 10 years. "I'm really proud of my guys," Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "We had a lot of guys contribute and this was a great team win in a very tough environment. Hopefully, this is something we can build on. Beating Duke doesn't make our season, but what it does is give you momentum as you continue your season." Things appeared a bit bleak in overtime as Tech seemed to lose some momentum after leading much of the game. The Hokies missed their first four shots from the floor, and Duke ended up taking a 67-66 lead on a free throw by Josh McRoberts with 1:28 left. The Blue Devils got the rebound after McRoberts missed his second free throw, but Jon Scheyer missed a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left, and Washington got the rebound for the Hokies to give them possession. Tech ran the shot clock down before Gordon drove inside. He launched a high, arcing shot over McRoberts that fell with 30.9 seconds left to give Tech a 68-67 lead. On Duke's next possession, the Blue Devils' David McClure missed an open jumper from the top of the key, and Tech rebounded. Scheyer fouled A.D. Vassallo with 7.5 seconds left, and Vassallo made the first of two free throws to give the Hokies a 69-67 lead. He missed the second one, and McRoberts rebounded, tossing the ball to point guard Greg Paulus. The sophomore bobbled the ball before sprinting up the floor and to the left wing. He launched a 3-pointer just as time expired, but Washington, a 6-foot-7 junior from New Orleans, swatted it into the stands, and that set off a wild Tech celebration. "I just tried to get a hand up and I was lucky I got the block," Washington said. "We were switching everything on defense. McRoberts screened Zabian, so I switched off. I waited for him [Paulus] to leave his feet and then I jumped." The victory was a sweet one for Tech considering what happened at the same venue a little over a year ago. In that one, Duke's Sean Dockery hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer that enabled the Blue Devils to knock off the upset-minded Hokies 77-75. "It'll never erase last year," Gordon said. "I'm always going to see that shot before I see anything from this game. But it's certainly good payback." The Hokies controlled the game for the most part, as Tech's guard tandem of Gordon and Zabian Dowdell were too quick for Duke's young backcourt of sophomores Paulus and McClure, and freshman Scheyer. The Hokies led for the first 28 minutes of the game before the Blue Devils grabbed their first lead. Tech led 64-61 in regulation after Dowdell drained two free throws with 29.4 seconds left. But Duke tied the game when DeMarcus Nelson hit a 3-pointer over Washington with 18 ticks to go. Tech called a timeout with 12.9 seconds left to set up a final shot, but Dowdell's long 3 from the wing didn't draw iron, sending the game into overtime. "That shot, compared to what these kids have been through, really wasn't a whole lot," Greenberg said. "I told the guys going into overtime that it doesn't get any better than this. This is fun. This is what it's all about. This is the time you've got to step up and get a stop and execute, and that's what we did." Dowdell, a senior from Pahokee, Fla., took advantage of a match-up with Paulus, scoring 20 points and hitting 8-of-16 from the floor, including a couple of 3-pointers. Gordon, a senior from Jacksonville, Fla., added 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Washington and center Coleman Collins added 11 points each for Tech. The trio of Gordon, Dowdell and Washington combined for 11 steals and served as a main reason why Duke turned the ball over 22 times. Paulus suffered a nightmarish game for Duke, turning the ball over six times with just one assist. McRoberts, who scored 16 points, also turned it over six times. Nelson led the Blue Devils with 22 points. Scheyer finished with 12 and Henderson added 10. The Hokies resume their season on Wednesday by stepping out of conference for their final non-conference game of the season. Tech travels to Greensboro to take on UNC Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 7 p.m.