Virginia Tech 58, Dayton 55
Saturday, February 20, 1999

I'm telling you, folks, it takes a total team effort to win a basketball game, and the Hokies are starting to get that.  Earlier this season, it was the Rolan Roberts / Eddie Lucas show, and two players isn't enough to get the job done, particularly when Roberts is prone to foul trouble that finds him riding the pine for significant periods of time.
In this game, once again, the Hokies got good efforts from Roberts and Lucas (14 and 19 points, respectively), but I really think the difference in this game was Dennis Mims.  After coming in highly touted and looking lost the first couple of months of the season, Dennis has started to emerge.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, because Dennis didn't really hit his stride until the second half of this one.  The Hokies led 28-27 at half time, thanks primarily to a hot start by Rolan, who scored 8 quick points, all on dunks, to open the game.  Lucas was missing in action in the first half, scoring only 4 points, and there was reason to worry.

Those reasons got more intense as the second half opened.   Dayton took the lead 33-30 and appeared to be getting ready to take control, despite the fact that "The Glove," Tech's Andre Ray, was holding Dayton's leading scorer, Tony Stanley, in check.

But Lucas and Mims emerged from their shells and sparked an impressive 19-7 run that saw the Hokies take a 49-40 lead with about ten minutes to go.   Mims burned Dayton's Mark Ashman repeatedly with cat-quick low-post moves, prompting Bill Roth to remark on the radio, "Mike, I don't think Ashman can guard Dennis Mims."

I didn't attend this game, but I watched the highlights of Mims's post moves on Virginia Tech Sports Today on Sunday, and he was looking unstoppable.  Dennis was using his body well, and he's got an explosive step to the basket that is hard to stop.  If too many teams give him too much room to work in the future, Dennis is going to start making 20-point nights a regularity.

More importantly, I saw some taped comments by Dennis, and he was grinning.  He looked happy, and that's a good thing.  A happy Dennis is a Dennis that is likely to stay at Virginia Tech, squelching the rumors that he might transfer.
Just when it looked as if the Hokies were about to blow Dayton out of the buiilding, the Tech offense went sleepy-bye, and Dayton started to crawl back into it.  The crawl turned into a walk, and then into a run, and the Hokies found themselves on the short end of a 55-54 score, with under a minute to go.

As the Roanoke Times article linked above details, Rolan Roberts single-handedly made sure that the Hokies didn't go down to defeat.   Last year, when the Hokies entertained Dayton at Cassell, it was Jenis Grindstaff who put the dagger into the Flyers' hearts with a last-second baseline drive.

This time, it was Roberts from the paint.  Rawhide canned an 18-footer with about twenty seconds to go to put Tech up by one, and then he rejected the ensuing Dayton shot attempt in the lane.  The ball went to Eddie Lucas, who was fouled and canned two freebies for the final margin.
In closing, it was a total team effort.  Roberts got them started, Lucas and Mims gave them a big boost in the second half, and Rolan carried them to victory in the last minute.  In the meantime, Andre Ray, the Silent Assassin, held Stanley to just ten points.  It was the fifth win in their last seven games for this never-say-quit team, and it was enough to leave Bobby Hussey once again pumping his fists at the crowd with a smile on his face.

USA Today box score
Roanoke Times article

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