BLACKSBURG – Dorenzo Hudson scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, burying a critical jumper late in the game, to lift Virginia Tech past Connecticut 65-63 in a second-round NIT game played at Cassell Coliseum on Monday night.
With the victory, the Hokies tied the school record for wins in a season, moving to 25-8 overall. The 1994-95 team went 25-10 and won the NIT championship.
The Hokies advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT, where they will play Rhode Island at home on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Tech is 17-1 at home this season, with the lone loss coming in double overtime to Maryland.
“The resiliency and toughness and competitive spirit of this team never ceases to amaze me,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “They’re just an amazing group. Keeping their composure, their ability to make plays down the stretch, their ability to get stops … they’re just a tough, competitive group that finds a way to win.
“I was really proud of the way we executed down the stretch. Down the stretch, we couldn’t have executed any better.”
The Hokies made big plays on both ends of the floor in the final minute. Trailing by one, 63-62, Tech got a big play on defense when Terrell Bell knocked the ball loose from UConn guard Jerome Dyson. Dyson picked up the ball, but stepped on the halfcourt line, which resulted in a backcourt violation with 22.4 seconds to go.
Following a Tech timeout, the Hokies ran a play for Hudson, who came off a curl and hit a 17-foot jumper with 14.1 seconds to go to give Tech a one-point lead.
“Dorenzo had been doing a great job of coming off those curls all night,” Greenberg said. “We wanted to try to get him the ball coming off a curl and we did that, and he made a tough, tough shot.”
UConn then called a timeout with 11 seconds left to set up a final play, and Kemba Walker took a short jumper that was blocked by Tech’s Jeff Allen with six ticks remaining. Walker got the loose ball and threw it to an open Gavin Edwards, but Edwards missed a lay-up and Bell got the rebound.
Walker fouled Bell with less than a second to go and Bell made the second of two free throws, giving Tech a 65-63 lead. Walker’s long shot was off the mark as time expired.
Hudson made 12 of 20 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds on a night when standout Malcolm Delaney struggled. Tech’s first-team All-ACC selection his just two of his 14 shot attempts (and none of his five 3-point attempts) and finished with six points. He did dish out nine assists.
JT Thompson was the only other player in double figures for Tech, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds.
Walker led UConn (18-16) with 18 points and hit 7 of 15 from the floor. He also grabbed six rebounds and had four assists. Dyson finished with 15 points and Edwards had 10.
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