The Hokies finally got off the schnide Sunday afternoon, snapping a three-game losing streak with a 79-69 victory over Penn State. Despite playing without senior guard Dorenzo Hudson, the Hokies found a spark in sophomore Erick Green.
Green tied his career high with 15 points, including a crucial three-pointer to ignite a 10-0 second half run to counter an 8-0 run by Penn State. The Winchester, VA native played his best game as a Hokie, nailing 6-of-11 shots, including 2-of-5 from long distance.
Tech built an 11-point halftime lead after finally showing some offensive motion. Despite a week off, the Hokies were crisp on the offensive end, making extra passes and creating open shots. The balanced attack led to a 62.1% shooting percentage in the first half and a 44-33 advantage. On defense, the Hokies created multiple transition opportunities by gathering long rebounds and forcing the issue against a weak Nittany Lion squad.
Despite the 11-point advantage, the Hokies came out flat in the second half and saw their lead shrink to three before Green's clutch shooting. The Nittany Lions wouldn't go away, crawling back to within eight before the Hokies put the final nail in the coffin. In what could be considered the turning point of the season, Tech broke out a quick 6-0 run in 45 seconds that was punctuated by a Victor Davila block on one end and a thunderous dunk that forced a Penn State timeout.
Despite the run's relative insignificance, the team seemed to exert energy and emotion unseen in the previous eight games this season. It was good seeing the five on the court celebrate as if they finally realized they can have fun while playing basketball.
Malcolm Delaney led the team with 18 points, and the Hokies got production from everywhere on the court. Jeff Allen picked up a foul 17 seconds into the game, but didn't pick up another foul in the final 39:43 en route to his 31st career double-double with 11 points and 13 boards. Terrell Bell played fantastic defense on PSU's Jeff Brooks (2 points, 5 rebounds), while recording a double-double of his own with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Even freshman guard Tyrone Garland provided quality minutes, tallying a career-high nine points in 12 minutes.
All things considered, the Hokies should've won this game and they did. Penn State will be one of the bottom feeders in the Big Ten and Tech couldn't afford another bad home loss this early in the season. Going forward, this game can be used as a confidence builder, especially with a big out-of-conference game against Mississippi State in the Bahamas Saturday.