BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Malcolm Delaney scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to lead Virginia Tech past Quinnipiac 81-61 in a first-round NIT game Wednesday night.
The Hokies (24-8), who advanced to play Connecticut at home in the second round on a date to be determined, shrugged off the disappointment of not making the NCAA tournament by holding the Bobcats to 38.1 percent shooting from the floor (24 for 63) and outrebounding one of the nation's best teams on the boards, 42-30.
Quinnipiac came in ranked No. 1 nationally in rebounding margin (plus 9.2) and seventh in rebounds per game (40.7).
"I'm really proud of my team," Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "I'm proud of their resolve. They probably handled this situation (not making the NCAA tournament) better than I did, to be honest. ... But for them to come out and play as hard as they did and to be ready, that's probably what hurt me so much. Because that's who they are."
Delaney, who was coming off a 3-for-15, seven-point performance in the Hokies' 70-65 quarterfinal loss to Miami in the ACC tournament that may have cost them an at-large bid to the NCAAs, hit four 3-pointers and went 6 for 9 from the floor in the first half alone against Quinnipiac's zone in helping Tech build a 12-point halftime margin.
Quinnipiac (23-10), regular-season champions in the Northeast Conference, trailed by just seven, 26-19, after a three-point play by Justin Rutty with 6:18 remaining. But Delaney canned 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for the Hokies to break open the game.
Tech opened the second half with a 7-2 run culminating with Delaney's two-handed slam with 17:48 left that built the lead to 17. Tech went on to lead by as many as 23.
"We were trying to slow the game down on offense and defense," Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. "We usually don't play that much zone. I thought it was a way to slow the pace, but Delaney blew a hole in that in the first half and they showed good patience in the second half, too. You've got to pick your poison. He's just terrific."
Delaney, the ACC's leading scorer at 20.4 point per game, hit 9 of 15 from the floor and 4 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.
"Not making the NCAA is disappointing, but at the same time, we're still playing basketball," Delaney said. "We can't dwell on the past. We know where we should be playing right now and a lot of people know where we should be playing. But we're still playing basketball, and we're going to take this opportunity to get better and get some momentum going into next year."
Dorenzo Hudson added 19 points for the Hokies.
Rutty led Quinnipiac with 22 points, hitting 10 of 13 shots from the floor. James Johnson added 17 for the Bobcats.