The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team got their season off to a good start, knocking off visiting Radford 80-50 in the opening game of the NABC Classic in Blacksburg on Thursday night. The Hokies got off to a sluggish start but got stronger as the game went on, using their superior talent and athleticism to defeat the Highlanders.
Virginia Tech got a very impressive performance from their talented junior class. Forward Coleman Collins led Tech in scoring with 17 points. He was a perfect 6-6 from the field, and 5-6 from the free throw line. He also had three rebounds and two blocks. Point guard Zabian Dowdell scored 16 points for the Hokies on 6-8 shooting. Dowdell also recorded four steals.
The best overall performance came from junior guard Jamon Gordon. Gordon scored 13 points on 4-8 shooting, including 3-5 from three-point range. He led the Hokies with eight rebounds and eight assists. He also blocked two shots, had a steal, and only turned the ball over once. Markus Sailes scored 12 points in his first game back following a redshirt season.
Just like last season, Virginia Tech won the battle in the assist-to-turnover ratio. The Hokies turned the ball over an unusually high 17 times, but did have 19 assists. Radford countered with 24 turnovers and just three assists. Both teams had 33 rebounds for the game, with Tech rallying from a 17-10 rebounding deficit at halftime. The Hokies had an outstanding shooting performance as a team, connecting on 29 of 48 shots (60.4%). Tech also shot 41.7% from three-point range.
Radford was able to stay in the game early and led 10-8 with 14:48 remaining in the first half on a layup by Chris Oliver. The Hokies responded to Oliver’s basket by going on an 11-0 run that was capped by a breakaway dunk by Zabian Dowdell with 12:38 left before intermission. Tech led 19-10 at that point, and the teams battled evenly for the remainder of the first half.
Virginia Tech never led by more than ten points in the first half, partially due to Radford’s first half advantage in rebounding. However Tech shot 60% from the field in the first half and took a 36-27 lead into halftime.
The Hokies began to blow the game open in the second half, opening with a 20-8 run that spanned the first 9:20 of the second half. Tech opened the second half with a dunk by freshman forward A.D. Vassallo, and Jamon Gordon scored seven points during the run to help the Hokies take control of the game for good.
The Hokies would gradually extend their lead throughout the remainder of the second half. They went up 62-39 on a Coleman Collins dunk with 7:15 remaining in the game. Jamon Gordon capped his outstanding performance with a three pointer to make the score 70-44 with 3:51 left in the game. Seth Greenberg then put in his reserves, who played pretty well in their own right. Crowd favorite Bob Ritchie scored four consecutive points for Tech to make the score 78-50 before Markus Sailes capped the rout with a driving layup.
The Hokies are 1-0 on the season and look to continue their winning ways against Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 pm, and the game will not be televised.