The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team rallied from Saturday’s loss to Bowling Green and defeated Western Carolina 54-40 Sunday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum. Four Hokies scored in double figures, with junior guard Markus Sailes leading the team with 13 points. Jamon Gordon played another good game for Tech. Gordon recorded a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing ten rebounds.
Like Saturday’s game, the Hokies struggled offensively in the first half. Luckily for Tech, the Catamounts struggled the entire game. At the 15:33 mark of the first half, Western Carolina was whistled for their seventh foul of the half, putting Tech in the bonus. Free throws and defense would be the only way Tech would stay in the game through the first half.
The Catamounts were called for 15 fouls in the first half along, and the Hokies capitalized by shooting 13-17 (76.5%) from the charity stripe in the first half. Western Carolina led 23-20 at the breaking, meaning Tech scored 13 of their 20 first half points at the free throw line. The Hokies made just three field goals before halftime and shot 3-18 (16.7%) from the field.
Despite their struggles offensively, the Hokies clamped down on the defensive side of the ball. They forced ten Catamount turnovers in the first half and Western Carolina made just eight shots from the field.
Virginia Tech would play much better in the second half. Tech went on a 9-0 run to start the half and pull out to a 29-23 lead with 16:22 remaining in the game. Deron Washington was the star of this run and really gave the Hokies a spark to begin the half. He only scored two points during the run, but he had two steals and a block to give Tech the momentum.
The Hokies would gradually extend their lead as the second half progressed. They would take a 41-32 lead on a Jamon Gordon layup with 7:06 to go in the game, and a 47-36 lead on a Gordon three-pointer with 4:38 left. Tech eventually led by 16, 52-36, following two free throws by Markus Sailes with 1:23 left.
Tech’s offensive play in the second half was nothing special, but it was much improved compared to their first half performance. The Hokies shot a much more respectable 44% from the field in the second half, and even improved their free throw shooting to 82%. For the game Tech shot 14-43 (32.6%) from the field and 23-29 (79.3%) from the free throw line. They did not attempt many three-pointers during the game, going 3-6 (50%).
The Hokies were thoroughly outclassed in bench production yet again, getting outscored 21-3. Tech’s lone three points off the bench came from freshman forward A.D. Vassallo. The Hokies did outrebound the Catamounts 33-27 and forced 17 Western Carolina turnovers.
Virginia Tech (2-1) will return to action on Friday night when they host Mount St. Mary’s. Tip-off is scheduled for 6pm and the game will be televised by CSN.