The Virginia Tech basketball team responded from a disappointing NCAA Tournament snub to hammer Quinnipiac 81-61 in the NIT opening round at home.
After giving up the initial basket of the game, the Hokies responded with a 10-1 run over the next five minutes.
Quinnipiac then switched to a 2-3 zone, which Malcolm Delaney busted with three three-pointers en route to a 19 point output in the first half. He finished with 25 points in the game.
Despite an overall solid first half performance, the highlight of the first 20 minutes was made on the defensive end of the floor.
Bobcat guard James Feldeine stole the ball and midcourt and took off on a tear towards his basket. Just as he left the floor to lay the ball in the basket, Dorenzo Hudson emphatically sent the ball flying out of bounds from behind; it was one of the few plays that brought the only partially full Cassell Coliseum crowd to its feet.
"I just felt like somebody needed to come out here and play with some energy. I was just going to leave it all on the floor. When I had the chance for that block, I just wanted to light a fire back under us," Hudson said.
Bobcats’ guard James Johnson didn’t endear himself to the partisan crowd in his first career game at the Cassell. After nailing an early three-pointer, he turned to the crowd with a menacing stare, which drew the ire of the students in attendance.
The crowd spent much of the rest of the game directing its chants at Johnson.
He did a poor job keeping them quiet, finishing the night with a 5-for-17 mark from the field.
The Hokies got off to a hot start in the second half as well, fueled by aggressive defense. Thanks in part to two quick steals, Tech began the second half on a 7-2 run, which was capped by a Delaney two-handed dunk in transition.
The convincing slam prompted Bobcat coach Tom Moore to stop the bleeding with a full timeout.
It didn’t accomplish much.
Following the timeout, Hudson nailed back-to-back three-pointers to extend the Hokies’ lead to 52-34.
The remainder of the game was very ho-hum.
With five minutes remaining, the crowd began chanting seldom used reserve Paul Debnam’s name, urging coach Greenberg to let him play.
Finally, in a Tech ritual that has become akin to the proverbial fat lady singing, Debnam was subbed in with 1:31 to go.
Jeff Allen, who only played four minutes in the first half and 19 overall, still managed to lead the Hokies on the boards with nine rebounds.
Feldeine, a three-year starter for the Bobcats and their leading scorer this season was held scoreless in the game.
"Terrell Bell did an absolutely phenomenal job guarding Feldeine," Greenberg said.
The Hokies move on to face Connecticut at home on Monday at 7:00 p.m.
The Huskies are only a year removed from a Final Four run.
"Connecticut is really talented and very athletic…they have size and shot makers… (senior guard Jerome) Dyson just refuses to lose," Greenberg said.
"Our approach won’t change a bit."