March 16, 2016
Tech advances in NIT with 86-81 OT win over Princeton
Zach LeDay and Jalen Hudson paced Tech with 29 and 28 points, respectively
12OTF
Princeton (22-7) 26421381
Virginia Tech (20-14) 32361886
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 8,241
  • High Points: 29 - Zach LeDay
  • High Rebounds: 11 - Zach LeDay

BLACKSBURG – Zach LeDay scored a career-high 29 points and Jalen Hudson added a season-high 28 to lead Virginia Tech to a 86-81 overtime victory over the Princeton Tigers in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at Virginia Tech Carilion Court on Wednesday night.

With the win, the Hokies moved to 20-14 overall on the season. Princeton saw its season end with a 22-7 record.

Following the game, Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams and the players went up into the stands to thanks the throng of more than 8,000 who attended the game.

“I thought the crowd was easily the best since we’ve been here. I would give credit to the fans for the victory because I don’t think that if we didn’t have the environment that we had, we wouldn’t have been able to finish the way we did,” Williams said. “I told the team after regulation that we were incredibly fortunate to have another chance. We’ll have to play defensively and offensively the way we did in the first half to have a chance.”

The Hokies seemed to have the game in control, leading 55-44 with 10:25 left after Devin Wilson banked in a 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down. But the Tigers wouldn’t go away, embarking on a 17-5 run capped by an Amir Bell 3-pointer that gave them a 61-60 lead with 4:13 remaining.

The Tigers led 68-65 with 54 seconds to go following Myles Stephens’ basket, but the Hokies got a free throw from Hudson and then Princeton committed a costly turnover with 35 seconds left. That led to two Seth Allen free throws that tied the game at 68. Princeton had a chance to win it, but Devin Cannady missed a 3-pointer and Alec Brennan missed a tough tip-in at the buzzer.

“We were definitely fortunate to get the game to overtime,” LeDay said. “We made some mistakes down the stretch defensively and they were making great plays. They didn’t run an offense necessarily at the end of the game. They were just going off the dribble and taking advantage of mismatches, and once we contained the dribble, we were good. We knew we cold score on offense. We just had to get stops on defense.”

In overtime, the Hokies scored on their final nine possessions. Tech struggled from the free-throw line for much of the game, but in overtime, the Hokies made 9 of 11 from the stripe.

Hudson hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring in overtime for the Hokies and they never trailed. Princeton cut the lead to 81-79 on two free throws by Cannady with 35.4 seconds left, but Allen hit two free throws and LeDay hit three free throws in the final 31.9 seconds to lift the Hokies to the win.

LeDay hit 10 of 16 from the floor and 9 of 14 from the free-throw line for Tech, scoring in double figures for the sixth straight game and for the 31st time this season. He also scored at least 20 points for the ninth time.

Hudson scored 23 of his points after halftime – and he scored in double figures for just the 11th time this season. He made 10 of 18 from the floor, including a couple of 3-pointers and 6 of 9 from the free-throw line. His 10 field goals were a career high, and he also finished with a career-high eight rebounds.

“My teammates were making great plays for me, honestly,” Hudson said. “They were making it easy for me. I was trying to be ultra-aggressive from the start to the finish. I didn’t know I had 23 in the second half [and overtime]. I was just trying to be ultra-aggressive like I always am and it worked for me.”

“Our perimeter offense collectively was as bad as it’s been in a while,” Williams said. “I didn’t think Seth was very good, I didn’t think [Justin] Bibbs was very good and I didn’t think 5 [Justin Robinson] was very good, but I will say that I thought they were mature in trying to fight through it individually and collectively. Not everything is going to go perfect all the time. Similarly when we beat Wake Forest in the ACC tournament, we wouldn’t have won without Jalen and tonight we wouldn’t have won without Jalen.”

The Hokies advanced to the second round and will play Brigham Young, a 97-79 winner over UAB on Wednesday night, on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET in Provo, Utah.

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