|Virginia Tech 56, Fordham 53|
|Hokie Central's Game
The Hokies used a strong second-half surge and withheld a late Fordham rally to win their first-round A-10 tournament game.
In the first half, Fordham rode the capable shoulders of Maurice Curtis, who had 14 points in the first frame, to a 25-25 tie. The Hokies came out smoking in the second half and built a lead that Fordham couldn't close until late in the game.
With about 3:30 to go, Tech led 49-42, but Fordham fired off two quick three-point plays (the old fashioned kind) to close it to 49-48 with 2:45 to go. Tech responded when Ace Custis fed Brendan Dunlop for a layup. Dunlop was fouled on the play, but he missed the free throw, and the lead was 51-48.
The two teams traded missed shots and turnovers, and with 36.5 seconds to go, Troy Manns hit a layup as the shot clock expired. Tech's lead was 53-48, but that was short-lived, as Fordham inbounded the ball and drove the length of the floor for a layup ... AND a foul. The Fordham player converted the free throw, and suddenly, with about 25 seconds to go, it was 53-51.
Brendan Dunlop was fouled on the inbounds, and the freshman, a 58% FT shooter on the year, made only one of the free throws, for a 54-51 lead. The freshman then fouled Dustin Berrien of Fordham on a layup attempt, and the Hokie faithful were sweating, indeed.
Miraculously, Berrien missed both free throws, and Keefe Matthews pulled down the rebound on the second one. He was fouled, and when he went to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 ... he missed it (are you seeing a pattern develop here?). Fordham countered with a quick duece, and with 7 seconds to go, they fouled Troy Manns, with the score at 54-53.
Troy had been having a difficult day, but he hit both free throws (finally!), putting the lead at 56-53. Fordham had difficulty getting a three-pointer off at the buzzer (the Rams were 1-14 from behind the arc for the game), and the 56-53 lead held.
On the upside, for the game, the Hokies had 15 offensive rebounds, which was a big key in the victory, and Ace shook off his injury problems to post a double-double (14 points and, I think, 11 rebounds). On the downside, the Hokies free throw shooting was a horrendous 7-13 (shooting from anywhere continues to be the achilles heel of this team), nearly costing them a game in which they otherwise played well.
The Hokies move on to the second round and a date with Rhode Island. The Hokies desperately want revenge for last year's A-10 tourney loss to URI, as well as the loss suffered in the Cassell earlier this year. The game is officially listed as a 2:00 game, but with an earlier game at 12:00, look for tipoff to be closer to 2:30. The game is televised on ESPN2.
Tech's record is now 15-15, 1-0 in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Unofficial Atlantic-10 Basketball Web Site
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