Virginia Tech 69, St. Bonaventure 68 (OT)
Wednesday, February 11th, 1998

Note from Will:  I typed this up while I listened to the game, so my comments on each phase of the game were actually written during that phase.  It creates an interesting game report, and the late portions of regulation and OT are actually described in play-by-play fashion.  Enjoy!

For the second game in a row, the Hokies, led by Eddie Lucas's three-point shooting, blew out of the gate quickly and took a 25-9 lead.  But with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half, the Bonnies threw a zone defense at Tech, and this started a long cold spell for the Hokies.  At halftime, the score was only 27-24, Tech, which oddly enough marked the fourth straight game (GW, Fordham, Temple, St. Bonaventure) in which the Hokies had led at the half.

Early in the second half, though, St. Bonaventure completed a 22-4 run that saw them take the lead, 31-29.  By this time, the Hokies were shooting poorly, playing bad defense, fouling, and turning the ball over.  Tech's lack of experienced leadership and a go-to guy was manifesting itself.

Tech was still struggling with the zone being played by a St. Bonaventure team that was 9-0 at home, and the Bonnies were out-rebounding the Hokies by a mile.  A one-time 11-7 rebound advantage by the Hokies was turned into a 30-17 edge for St. Bonaventure, meaning that the Bonnies had gone on a 23-10 rebounding run.

Meanwhile, the Bonnies ran the same inbounds alley-oop play twice and got dunks off of it both times.  A few great individual plays (passes and steals) by Grindstaff, along with some timely turnovers and fouls by St. Bonaventure, kept the Hokies close, but you could tell that Tech was hanging by a thread. They were walking, throwing the ball away, and stepping out of bounds. With 7:51 to go, Tech took a time out with the Bonnies leading, 45-40.

One bright spot was that Rolan Roberts only had one foul deep into the second half.   He blocked a shot and threw down a dunk that kept the Hokies within five at 47-42.   This was followed by a sequence in which Dunlop blocked a shot, got a rebound, and made a layup to close it to 47-44.  Then Rolan blocked a shot as the shot clock was winding down, and suddenly, the Hokies seemed to have some fire.

The Hokies kept the effort up, but their success continued to be spotty.  With 1:05 to go, the Bonnies were leading 53-48, and Jenis Grindstaff missed a shot.  St. Bonaventure got the rebound, and the fouling and free-throw-shooting dance began.   St. Bonaventure stretched the lead to 54-48, but missed the next free and a layup to help keep the Hokies in it.  Tech closed the gap to 54-51 on free throws.

After making another free throw, St. Bonaventure inexplicably left Eddie Lucas open at the three-point line, and Eddie nailed a three-pointer to make the score 55-54 with 37 seconds to go.  St. Bonaventure brought the ball over half court and called a timeout with 25 seconds left.  With 17.5 seconds to go, Tech elected to foul St. Bonaventure.

First free throw:  miss.  Second free throw:  good.  56-54, St. Bonaventure.

Brendan Dunlop was feeling it, and on Tech's next possession, he brought the ball up against the Bonnies' man-to-man defense, drove the lane, and banked in a driving layup with 5.2 to go to tie it.  St. Bonaventure couldn't convert ... and to overtime it went.

From this point on, an already exciting game became a classic as the two teams traded punches in overtime.  Rolan scored off an offensive rebound, St. Bonaventure's Tim Wynn hit a three, and then Rolan dunked off a great feed from Jenis.  Tech led, 60-59.

Then, near disaster.  Wynn hit another three and was fouled by Dunlop on the shot, and although Wynn missed the free throw, Tech's bad stretch continued as Lucas followed by missing a three, and then he fouled St. Bonaventure's Palmer as he made a shot.   Palmer, unlike Wynn, was good with the free throw.  65-60, Bonnies, and things were looking grim for Tech.

Then Rolan "Rawhide" Roberts made one of the three biggest plays of the game by canning a three to pull it to 65-63.

Wynn missed a three, and Tech's Andre Ray rebounded.  Roberts missed a shot, and the clock went under two minutes.  On St. Bonaventure's ensuing possession, Roberts blocked a shot as the shot clock wound down, and Jenis was fouled on a fast break layup attempt.  Jenis is money from the line, and he tied it at 65.

At the other end, Andre Ray fouled out, joining Eddie Lucas, who had previously fouled out.  St. Bonaventure made only one free throw again, and the Bonnies led by one, 66-65.

On Tech's end, Brendan Dunlop continued his heroics with a three-pointer, and with 30 seconds to go, Tech had a 68-66 lead.  At this point, the buckets were coming fast and furious in this unusually high-scoring OT, and Tech had finished an 8-1 run to put themselves up by two.

All the Hokies had to do was play good defense, but in a loose-ball situation, Rolan committed a foul with fifteen seconds to go.

First free throw:  good.  Second free throw:  good.  Tie ball game, 68-68.

At the other end, the Hokies got it inside to Rolan Roberts, a 55% free throw shooter, and he was fouled with 2.9 seconds to go.  With the crowd roaring, Rolan missed the first one, and as my heart pounded and my palms sweated, Rolan hit the second one!   69-68, Tech!

St. Bonaventure's last-gasp effort was a pass to half court, where they tried to draw a foul on Russ Wheeler.  The call wasn't made, and then the Bonnies turned the ball over on a bad pass, ending the game not with a bang, but a whimper.

A big win for the Hokies!  Tech accomplished what no other team could do at St. Bonaventure so far this year - WIN.  Tonight, Brendan Dunlop and Rolan Roberts were the heroes, with big contributions from Eddie Lucas (with a late three-pointer) and Jenis Grindstaff with 7 assists.

Comments and Keys

Don't underestimate this win - Olean is a tough place to play, and as I mentioned before, the Bonnies were 9-0 there, including wins over A-10 heavies Xavier and Rhode Island, until the Hokies knocked them off.  St. Bonaventure will probably play in the NIT this year.

The Hokies won for one main reason:  they made plays down the stretch, particularly Rolan Roberts and Brendan Dunlop.  But the Hokies also won for the following reasons:

  • Tech posted a season high in steals (12).
  • St. Bonaventure had the most turnovers (21) of any team Tech has faced this year.
  • Although St. Bonaventure shot 18-26 from the free throw line, they missed some free throws late that allowed the Hokies to hang in there.

This offset a 41-27 rebounding edge in favor of the Bonnies.

The USA Today's web site was not being updated when I did this report, so I'll give you some stats from memory (some may be incorrect, particularly Dunlop's scoring total):

  • Rolan Roberts:  38 mins, 23 points, 8 boards, 2 blocks.  Player of the game.
  • Eddie Lucas:  9 points.
  • Brendan Dunlop:  17 points.
  • Jenis Grindstaff:  11 points (4-14 shooting),  7 assists.

USA Today Game Summary (includes stats)

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