40 minutes of play wasn't enough to settle the first round of the N.I.T. between Princeton and Virginia Tech. It took Enter Sandman and overtime, but the Hokies ended up victorious 86-81 in front of a packed house at Cassell. Seth Allen was clutch hitting a number of important buckets and free-throws, but Zach LeDay was the story of the game with 29 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
The game went back and forth, with Princeton getting out to a solid double-digit lead early and the Hokies coming back and having a double-digit lead of their own early I in the second half.
Late in the second half, the Hokies got careless with the ball, had some turnovers, and had a difficult time making timely shots. During the last five minutes of regulation, it was noticeable that the Hokies were a young and inexperienced team. The epitome of this was watching Zach LeDay at the line. During the last five minutes of regulation, he was pushing his free-throws, wishing them to go in, without the confident stroke that Tech fans have grown to love. That would have been the story if the Tigers had comeback to win, but in the end, it was all about the Hokies grit.
Again and again, the Hokies showed the toughness that has made fans and pundits alike fall in love with this team. They go to the basket, they make pressure shots and free-throws with shocking regularity (especially at home), and they put so much pressure on their opponents, that they often fail to come up with the goods when they need to. That is what makes this team so special. They make you beat them. Most college teams can't beat you, especially the ones in the N.I.T., and the Hokies, with one more win, will play at home again before going to Madison Square Garden.
I'm not saying that they are a lock. BYU, who is leading big at the time of this article, is a tough team, and they make a a lot of 3's. But this Hokie team is special, and I don't think they are ready to stop just yet.
Finally, if this is the last game at home for this team, a quick thank you to all of you that have gone to home games this season. It has been so much fun to see all the fans at these games, and personally, I'm rooting for even more sold out crowds next season.