|Virginia Tech 79, Fordham 75 (OT)
Saturday, February 13, 1999
|Don't ever, ever, ever leave or cut off the TV or radio when the Hokies are
down by ten with a minute to go. Because you just never know.
Admit it - how many of you did just that today? How many of you were disgusted with Tech's second half performance, or lack thereof, and just flat tuned this one out as it was winding down with the Hokies getting hammered?
I didn't. And I'm glad I didn't, because I saw a comeback the likes of which you see maybe once every five years, if that often.
I'll admit that part of the reason I hung in there and watched this game until the end, despite the bleak outlook, was because it was, after all, Fordham. If the game had been against Temple or Xavier, perhaps I would have been tempted to take my TV remote and search for Baywatch, or that VH-1 "Behind the Music" special on Def Leppard where the band member is wearing the Virginia Tech T-shirt during a concert. After all, they show the darn thing, what, once a week?
But it was Fordham, so even though the Hokies were down by ten with a minute to go, I kept watching.
But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's go back to the beginning.
The Hokies came out strong in this one. Well, okay, not right away. Tech was down 10-9 early in this game, and then blew up on the Rams to take a 30-20 half time lead. The Hokies were cruising at that point, and it appeared that they would beat Fordham easily. After all, the Rams' leading scorer, Bevon Robin, had suffered from the flu all week and wasn't feeling up to snuff.
Admittedly, there were some warning signs at half time that perhaps this thing could still turn into a dog fight. Eddie Lucas, for the second game in a row, was being gloved up by a well-designed defense, and the Hokies were having a miserable time of it from the free throw line, where they shot 1-5 in the first stanza and would eventually sink to 3-13 before coming on strong late.
But by the same token, Tech's inside duo of Roberts and Mims were abusing the smaller Rams, and Tech appeared to be in control. After all, if David Whaley is reverse-slamming the ball on a breakaway, as he did in the first half, that's a good sign that all is right in Hokie-land.
But Fordham came out strong in the second half, closed the gap on Tech, and laid the wood to the Hokies. FU's Jason Harris bombed away with abandon from three point range, making the Ram faithful say, "Bevon who?" and Fordham outscored Tech 43-23 in the first 19 minutes of the second half. The Hokies weren't really doing anything worse or anything different (except for failing to guard Harris adequately), it's just that Fordham heated up and took the 63-53 lead, and it appeared this one was over.
But Fordham sprung a leak when Harris went down with cramps that were so severe that they couldn't be massaged out, and suddenly, with Harris and his six three-pointers out of the game, the scoring load at the guard position fell back to the sickly Bevon Robin. Specifically, in the last minute, Robin had to handle the ball a lot and shoot free throws, and he wasn't up to the task.
In the last minute, not only did Robin, who came into the game shooting nearly 90% from the free throw line, miss several free throws (he would go 11-16 from the stripe), but the Rams turned the ball over twice. In the meantime, Tech got a 3-pointer from Jermaine Kimbrough and two perfect trips to the free-throw line by Lucas and Dunlop, plus a drive for two by Dunlop, and Tech found themselves down 65-62 with thirteen seconds to go.
And then the satellite feed for the game went out, and my TV screen went dark.
Fortunately, I had Bill and Mike on the radio, and although I didn't get to see it live, I got to listen to The Voice call Dunlop's improbable hanging three-pointer that tied the game with under two seconds to go.
After that, by TV reception came back, and the outcome in overtime was a foregone conclusion. The Rams were in shock, and the Hokies dispatched them fairly easily behind the play of Dunlop and Dennis Mims.
It was amazing, unlikely, and proof that you should never leave early to beat the traffic. The Hokies escaped New York with a win over the Fordham Rams, who had Tech right where they wanted them, but let them slip away.
Ray's Threes - it should be duly noted that the Hokies never would have won this game had Andre Ray, normally not a decent shooter all, not made two of three 3-point attempts. Both of the shots were wide-open looks, and were pretty strokes that hit nothing but net. Andre doesn't usually do that, and he couldn't have picked a better game to try it.
Mims is the Man - Dennis Mims filled in for a struggling Russ Wheeler, played 29 minutes, and scored 16 points on 6-6 shooting from the field. Dennis also snared three big offensive rebounds and played with confidence. I unfairly said in my last game report that Dennis had lost all confidence in his game. A message board poster who has seen the Hokies play more than I this year corrected me, and said that Dennis has been playing well lately, and he only looked bad against Rhode Island after a dunk attempt was blocked. Dennis stepped up when the Hokies needed him desperately, and gets a game ball for this one, along with Dunlop.
Coming on Late at the Line - the Hokies finished 17-29 from the line, despite starting out 3-13, which means that they made 14 of their last 16 from the charity stripe. More proof that good free-throw shooting down the stretch wins games. Tech got it, Fordham didn't.
Getting It From Everywhere - when the Hokies have won lately, which includes four out of their last five, they have done it with a total team effort. In this game, not only did Dunlop and Mims come up big, but Kimbrough hit three of four three-pointers and was vital to the victory. The Hokies had five players score in double figures: Dunlop (17), Mims (16), Roberts (14), Lucas (10), and Kimbrough (10). It's worth noting that the Hokies scored 79 points despite the fact that Roberts and Lucas, their two top scorers, only contributed 24 points between the two of them.
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