March 17, 2010
Delaney, Hokies too much for Quinnipiac in the NIT
By Jimmy Robertson
Quinnipiac (23-10) 273461
Virginia Tech (24-8) 394281
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 5,264
  • High Points: 25 - Malcolm Delaney
  • High Rebounds: 9 - Jeff Allen

BLACKSBURG – Malcolm Delaney scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to lead Virginia Tech past Quinnipiac 81-61 in a first-round NIT game Wednesday night at Cassell Coliseum.

With the win, the Hokies moved to 24-8 overall on the season and advanced to the second round, where they will meet Connecticut at Cassell on Monday night at 7 p.m. Tech also improved to 12-2 in NIT games played at Cassell and 22-8 overall in the NIT.

The Hokies shook off the disappointment of not making the NCAA Tournament by holding the Bobcats to 38.1 percent shooting from the floor (24-for-63) and out-rebounding one of the nation’s best rebounding teams (42-30). Quinnipiac came into this one ranked No. 1 nationally in rebounding margin (+9.2) and seventh in rebounds per game (40.7).

“I’m really proud of my team,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “I’m proud of their resolve. They probably handled this situation [not making the NCAA Tournament] better than I did, to be honest. It’s been a hard 72 hours. We had everything to lose and not a whole lot to gain [Wednesday night], and I think we’re all probably emotionally spent. But for them to come out and play as hard as they did and to be ready, that’s probably what hurt me so much. Because that’s who they are.”

“I was impressed with Virginia Tech’s energy level,” Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. “Having been at UConn for a couple of years when we went to the NIT, I know difficult it is to prepare a team emotionally and mentally to play in the NIT when the disappointment is so severe. I was hoping we’d get a flat Virginia Tech team since the announcement was 72 hours ago, but it’s a tribute to how good a coach Seth Greenberg is that he had those guys emotionally charged. They played smart and hungry, and there wasn’t a lapse in energy all night.”

Delaney, who was coming off a 3-for-15, seven-point performance in the Hokies’ 70-65 quarterfinal loss to Miami in the ACC Tournament, hit four 3-pointers and went 6-for-9 from the floor in the first half alone against Quinnipiac’s zone in helping Tech build a 12-point halftime margin.

Quinnipiac (23-10), regular-season champions in the Northeast Conference, trailed by just seven, 26-19, after a three-point play by Justin Rutty with 6:18 remaining. But Delaney canned 3-pointers on back-to-back possession for the Hokies, breaking open the game.

Tech opened the second half with a 7-2 run that was culminated by Delaney’s two-handed slam with 17:48 left that built the lead to 17. Tech went on to lead by as many as 23.

“We were trying to slow the game down on offense and defense,” Moore said. “We usually don’t play that much zone. I thought it was a way to slow the pace, but Delaney blew a hole in that in the first half and they showed good patience in the second half, too.

“You’ve got to pick your poison. I think he’s just terrific. The thing I respected more than the first-half shooting performance was how unselfish he was in the second half. A kid like that, who’s a scorer, might be thinking, ‘I’ve got 19, let me go and try to get 40.’ But he didn’t play with an ounce of selfishness in the second half and that was impressive to me.”

Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer at 20.4 points per game, hit 9 of 15 from the floor and 4 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.

“Not making the NCAA is disappointing, but at the same time, we’re still playing basketball,” Delaney said. “We can’t dwell on the past. We know where we should be playing right now and a lot of people know where we should be playing. But we’re still playing basketball, and we’re going to take this opportunity to get better and get some momentum going into next year.”

Dorenzo Hudson added 19 for the Hokies, who shot 45.3 percent from the floor. Tech only turned the ball over seven times and dished out a season-high 20 assists – six each by Delaney and Terrell Bell.

Rutty led Quinnipiac with 22 points, hitting 10 of 13 from the floor. James Johnson added 17 for the Bobcats.

For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MBBall).

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