Dayton 59, Virginia Tech 54

Hokie Central's Game Report


Note that there isn't an explanation point after that "argh." That's because it's a very resigned "argh," one of frustration. I had really hoped that Tech could make the NIT and get to host at least a first round game, becuase those are the fun games when people actually show up at the Cassell.

That's becoming a pipe dream, however, after a week in which Tech lost two very winnable games against less than stellar opponents, La Salle and Dayton. The Hokies held each of those teams to 59 points but could not generate 60 themselves (that makes it ten games in a row that Tech hasn't breached 60 points). The result is two more entries in the "L" column and fading NIT hopes, because the rest of the schedule is a gauntlet that includes Temple, GW, Virginia, and Xavier.

Heading into this three-game road trip against Fordham, La Salle, and Dayton, the Hokies were 12-9 and in all probability needed to win all three to have a good shot at postseason play. I figured the Hokies would win at Fordham, have an excellent chance to win at La Salle, and face a stiff test at Dayton. The Flyers gave Tech a hard time in Blacksburg in their first meeting, and regardless of Dayton's record, it's a tough place to play, because they turn out 10,000-11,000 fans per game (for the record, yesterday's attendance was about 10,800). With the loss to Dayton, however, Tech came out of the trip 1-2, 13-11 overall.

This game against Dayton is what happens when Ace Custis doesn't play well. Unless somebody else steps up in a big way, we're doomed. Ace was 2-10 from the field, and I have a funny feeling that the pinched nerve in his neck that was briefly mentioned a couple of games ago is still bothering him. He did manage to post 11 rebounds, despite being matched up against the A-10's leading rebounder in Ryan Perryman.

Towards the end of the first half, the Hokies put together a nice run and led 21-19, as the guys who are usually role players stepped up and hit the big shots. In the second half, however, they ran out of gas, and Dayton torched the Hokies for 40 points. To give you an idea of how many points that is against this Tech team, remember that the Hokies held Fordham to just 32 for the entire game. The last I heard, the Rams were still in the gym, shooting uncontested layups in an attempt to bring their total up to the 40 that Dayton scored in the second half alone.

Dayton guard Darnell Hoskins scored 17 all by himself in the second half, repeatedly penetrating easily against freshman Brendan Dunlop, who got his first career start and played 32 minutes. As is the case with freshman, they very often cost you on the defensive end, cancelling out what you get out of them on the offensive end. I thought Brendan played an excellent game offensively (3-6, 4 assists, 9 points), but he didn't look like he was putting up much of an effort on the defensive end, often standing up straight and not moving his feet well, looking sluggish as Hoskins drove on him.

The other bright spot for Tech, in my opinion, was Russ Wheeler, who continues to impress me. Russ isn't the kind of guy who's going to tear the rim down, but he shows composure way beyond his experience level. He catches the ball well and moves well in traffic, showing no fear. Russ scored 6 points in only 14 minutes on 3-6 shooting.

Next year, once this team is turned over to this year's freshmen and the incoming transfers and recruits, I think you'll start to see some improved chemistry and better offense. And the way things are going, next year will be here sooner than you think, because it doesn't appear that postseason play is in this team's future. That's too bad, because I'd like to see Custis and Foster both go out on a better note.

Tech's record is now 13-11, 6-6 in the Atlantic 10.

USA Today Game Statistics for Dayton 59, Virginia Tech 54

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