December 05, 2005

No. 1 Duke Defeats Virginia Tech 77-75

DURHAM, N.C. - No one has scored more points for Duke than Johnny Dawkins. Nearly 20 years after his college career ended, he settled for one big assist. Sean Dockery made a heave from about 40 feet with less than a second left after some advice from the associate head coach, giving the top-ranked Blue Devils an improbable 77-75 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski drew up a play for burly center Shelden Williams, but Dawkins saw Dockery was virtually unguarded. He urged the senior guard to make himself available for Josh McRoberts' pass, if Williams should be covered.

That's exactly how it happened.

"I knew I had plenty of time," Dockery said. "I had confidence in the shot and I knocked it down."

It conjured up memories of Christian Laettner's shot at the buzzer that beat Kentucky in the 1992
NCAA tournament, when he took a pass from Grant Hill and swished a jumper from near the top of the key. Much as Hill did, McRoberts set the play in motion with perfect aim.

"I don't know what I was thinking," McRoberts said. "It was kind of surreal to watch."

The frantic finish denied the Hokies a stunning upset after they rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 4 1/2 minutes. Coleman Collins capped the comeback by tipping in a miss by Zabian Dowdell, and after conferring with TV replays, the referees put 1.6 seconds back on the clock for the Blue Devils (7-0).

He received the ball just over halfcourt, then took one quick dribble — one less than Laettner needed 13 1/2 years ago — and launched his shot from the "Coach K Court" decal near the sideline.

It rattled in, sending the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy and giving Virginia Tech (5-3) its second stunning loss in two days. On Saturday, Marcus Vick and the Hokies' football team lost the ACC's first championship game to Florida State.

"I'm very proud of our basketball team," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "We did a lot of things that gave us a chance to win the basketball game. We just got beat by a great team on a great shot."

Shelden Williams dominated throughout and finished with 21 points and 19 rebounds, while J.J. Redick bounced back from first half foul trouble to add 18 points. Yet, with the game on the line, Dockery was the one who came through.

He finished with a season-high 19 points — the first time he's been in double figures all season — and was 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Of course, the final one was the most important.

"It felt real good leaving my hand," Dockery said. "Not to sound cocky or anything, but I knew it had a chance. In practice, I'm never the one hitting those shots. I guess it makes me about 1-for-30 now."

Collins led the Hokies with 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and Dowdell added 15.

"We just kept fighting," Dowdell said. "I was real optimistic. I just felt like something good was going to happen to our team."

This one was tight all the way, featuring 17 lead changes and 12 ties. The Blue Devils finally took control with — what else? — with stingy defense, and Redick and the rest of the guards finally found range from outside.

Virginia Tech was down 63-61 when Gordon got stripped by Dockery, and Duke's Lee Melchionni beat everyone down court for what was going to be an uncontested layup. Gordon hustled down in an attempt to stop the shot, but he simply shoved Melchionni out of bounds instead of going for the ball.

An intentional foul was called, giving the ball to the Blue Devils following two free throws from Melchionni. Redick made the most of the extra possession by making his first 3-pointer, and suddenly, the Hokies were down seven.

It quickly got worse. Collins worked inside for an easy basket before Duke pulled away, thanks to Williams putting back his own miss, Redick using a nifty behind-the-back dribble to free himself for an open look and Dockery converting a pair of free throws.

That made it 74-63. On the sideline, Greenberg told his team to stay patient and to come back one defensive stop at a time.

"That's what we hang our hat on," Dowdell said. "As long as we keep doing that well, we'll be all right."

The comeback was swift. Nine straight points — highlighted by Collins' two dunks — cut the margin to two and, after Jamon Gordon made one of two at the line, Williams missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

With 11 seconds left, the Hokies got an open look for Dowdell, and when the ball rolled off the rim, Collins beat Williams to the rebound to give his team the lead.

It proved to be short-lived.

"I feel very badly for Virginia Tech," Coach K said. "They gave a winning effort. They never quit and they were certainly deserving to win. I'm not sure we were."

No. 18 Washington 99, No. 6 Gonzaga 95

At Seattle, Jamal Williams had 22 points and seven rebounds and Washington overcame Gonzaga star Adam Morrison's 43-point night.

Freshman Justin Dentmon scored a season-high 17 points to help Washington (7-0) extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 29 games. The Huskies also ended a seven-game losing skid to their cross-state rivals.

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