In the first round N.I.T. from the Cassell, the Hokies started very slowly. The Hokies fell behind early and trailed 12-4 with 15:58 left in the first half. Virginia Tech then went on a 9-0 to take a one point lead before the second media timeout of the game. Junior Zach LeDay really set a hot pace, going for 9 points early in the first half. Princeton, a normally great three point shooting team, opened up going only 2-9 from behind the arc. The game was played at a fever pitch early, with both teams looking anxious and energized. The first half found sound rhythm with around 6:00 to go. Both teams seem to really settle in after the elongated initial burst. Virginia Tech was pressing on every made basket, and it seemed to frazzle the Tigers a bit. With 5:19 left in the half, the Hokies had their biggest lead yet at 28-17.
Seemingly on cue, the Tigers started heating up from the arc. After a couple of clutch threes, Princeton shrank the VT lead back down to four. Spencer Weisz was crucial and had six points for Princeton at this point. Princeton was getting a ton of open looks from downtown, and were suddenly cashing them in. After a strong Princeton run, the Hokies lead was just 4 with 1:45 left in the half. Princeton was in the midst of a 9-0 run with less than a minute in the half, when Chris Clarke converted both sides of a one and one. It was the first Hokie points in over five minutes. Zach LeDay finished the first half with a thunderous dunk, and the Hokies went to halftime with the lead. LeDay finished the first half with 15 big points.
HALF: #Hokies up 32-26 on Princeton@ZachLeDay32 leads VT with 15 (!!) points #BeatPrinceton pic.twitter.com/18mYqhFpPp— VT Men's Basketball (@VT_MBBall) March 17, 2016
The Hokies started the second half on a mission. LeDay kept his hot hand scorching with another monster dunk in the early goings. Tech had a 32-24 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the game. After letting them play early, the officials tightened up in the second half. This slowed the manic game play down considerably. Steven Cook from Princeton was leading the Tiger scorers with 16. Virginia Tech was imposing its will, and the Hokies were firmly in charge of this ballgame. Zach LeDay was at 21 points with still 9:39 left in the ballgame.
The Hokies were able to drive seemingly at will against the Tiger's defense, and Seth Allen and company were gashing them on many possessions. The Tigers had no "give up", and kept chipping at the Hokies advantage. LeDay drove down the lane but missed. Princeton hustled up and buried a three to make it a four point contest with 8:17 left in the game. With five minutes left in the game, the outcome was certainly in question. This has been a game of "runs", and it appeared whoever had the last one would take the win. With a huge three, Princeton took the lead with 3:47 left in the game 61-60. Steven Cook kept us his good play hitting 2 clutch free throws late in the game. Princeton has officially stolen the mojo, and Tech looked extremely uncomfortable with less than a minute to play. After Seth Allen missed one of two free throws, Princeton gave the Hokies an unbelievable break. They threw the in bounds out of play giving Virginia Tech the ball back. The Hokies were down 2 with 37.5 seconds left in the game. Seth Allen was fouled again, and tied the game 68-68 with 30 seconds left. The Hokie defense was solid, and we were headed to overtime 68-68.
#StartJumping pic.twitter.com/zP86doaanD— VT Men's Basketball (@VT_MBBall) March 17, 2016
In overtime the intensity was multiplied tenfold. The Hokies held a 4 point advantage with 2 minutes left in the extra frame. Princeton came back, and with 57 seconds left in overtime, the Hokies held a slim one point margin. All of my fingernails were gone. Jalen Hudson drove the ball and hit an awesome layup with the "and one" Jalen Hudson now had a game high of 27 and the Hokies had a 4 point lead. The game was never really in question again, and the Hokies closed them out. Final score VT 86 Princeton 81.