Virginia Tech vs. N.C. State: Malcolm Delaney, Hokies pick up an important ACC road win

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 2, 2011; 12:47 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. - Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg struggled to explain it as he sat behind the podium following a 77-69 Hokies victory over North Carolina State on Wednesday night.

Sure, he had told his team before the game that the Wolfpack often plays defense so aggressively that it struggles to box out. And that North Carolina had grabbed 20 offensive rebounds when it blew out North Carolina State by 20 points this past weekend.

But 19 offensive rebounds?

Twenty-three second-chance points - 19 of which came before halftime?

For Virginia Tech, a team with just one player taller than 6-7 and no front-court depth to speak of?

"It's better than getting dominated," Greenberg said with a sheepish grin.

That it is, and as a result of their work on the glass, the Hokies were able to escape with their 11th win in 13 games. Virginia Tech grabbed 14 offensive rebounds in the first half - on just 19 missed shots - and led by as many as 16 points to score its second road victory of the year against an ACC opponent.

The Wolfpack did threaten with less than five minutes remaining in the second half, closing to within six points when guard Lorenzo Brown rebounded his own missed free throw, scored a layup and drew another foul in the process. The result was a four-point possession, capping off a 13-2 run that brought a subdued crowd of 15,945 at RBC Center out of their seats.

It was only appropriate, then, that North Carolina State's comeback bid lost its steam soon thereafter when senior Malcolm Delaney's wild runner with the shot clock expiring bounced directly off the backboard and into the waiting hands of forward Victor Davila. He slammed home the putback to push the Hokies' lead back into double digits.

Virginia Tech (15-6 overall, 5-3 ACC) finished with a season-high 46 rebounds, to North Carolina State's 35. Davila led the way with a game-high 13 rebounds, while senior Jeff Allen added 11.

"When you can get an extra possession, it feels good," said senior Terrell Bell (13 points, five rebounds), one of four Hokies starters to finish in double digits. "Then you can get a good shot out of it and sometimes score. It helps out a lot because you know when a team's down and you could just feel it on the floor."

Greenberg said he spent the 36 hours leading into Wednesday emphasizing two simple words to his team: "No regrets." Last Tuesday, the Hokies collapsed down the stretch in a winnable road game at Georgia Tech, an effort that was marred by silly turnovers and forced shots.

For a second straight game, though, Virginia Tech didn't falter, even as the Wolfpack began to gain some confidence and pound the glass. The Hokies had just six turnovers the entire game, and North Carolina State (12-10, 2-6) never did get closer than six points in the second half.

"The game didn't have a great deal of flow, but it's encouraging when they made the run, that we still remained poised and got the ball in good places," Greenberg said.

The game was won in the first half, when Virginia Tech imposed its will. Despite shooting just 40.9 percent from the field, the Hokies simply outworked a sometimes-sluggish Wolfpack squad.

And it was Allen, who scored his 1,500th career point in the first half, doing much of the damage. He scored 10 of Virginia Tech's first 18 points, mostly on putbacks and short layups.

Allen, though, wasn't alone in re-making the Virginia Tech record book. Delaney (22 points) became just the fourth player in school history to notch 2,000 career points on his final basket of the contest. He accomplished the feat with a baseline floater that bounced around the rim and through the hoop, the finishing touch on a road victory that was more about effort than any sort of basketball skill.

"Just getting the 2,000 and winning is big," Delaney said. "If somebody had told me I had and we lost, I wouldn't have cared. So just getting a win and being able to share it with these guys is probably the best part."

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