The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team got back on track Friday night in the Old Spice Classic, downing Montana 77-56. The Grizzlies, an NCAA tournament team last season from the Big Sky Conference that returned all five starters this season, never presented a challenge to the more athletic Hokies. Virginia Tech improves to 3-1 overall and will face Southern Illinois on Sunday.
The backcourt once again led the way for the Hokies. Zabian Dowdell paced the Virginia Tech attack with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range. Dowdell dished out four assists and also had a steal.
His fellow backcourt teammate Jamon Gordon had another good game with 11 points. Gordon scored eight of Virginia Tech’s first 10 points of the game. He added to his solid night with three assists and four steals, inching his way towards the top of Virginia Tech’s all-time list in both categories.
After suffering through a bad game on Thursday against Western Michigan, Coleman Collins was better against Montana. The senior had 13 points and six rebounds. He was 5-of-10 from the field and hit all three of his free throw attempts.
The Hokies also got solid production from their bench against the Grizzlies. Freshman point guard Nigel Munson showed flashes of why he was highly rated out of DeMatha High School, by scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. He had two assists and no turnovers in 16 minutes of action.
A.D. Vassallo also chipped in with nine points on 3-of-7 shooting in 16 minutes. Sophomore forward Cheick Diakite was productive off the bench, with four points, three rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes.
The Hokies enjoyed a good shooting performance by hitting 31-of-56 shots from the field, good for 55.4%. They were also 5-of-10 from three-point range. Montana was limited to 41.4% from the field and 26.3% from three-point range.
As usual, Virginia Tech dominated turnover margin, thanks to their stellar senior backcourt of Dowdell and Gordon. The Hokies committed just eight turnovers, while forcing 17. The Hokies outscored Montana 27-4 in points off turnovers.
Gordon, Dowdell and Collins all keyed Virginia Tech’s victory with big scoring spurts. After Collins scored Tech’s first basket of the game, Gordon ran off eight straight points to put the Hokies up 10-2 early in the game. Late in the first half, Zabian Dowdell scored nine consecutive points to lead the Hokies to a 36-24 halftime lead.
At one point in the second half, Collins scored seven straight points to help the Hokies continue to pull away. Virginia Tech led by as many as 26 points (70-44) before coasting to the easy victory.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm when they face Southern Illinois in their final game of the Old Spice Classic. It will be another test for the Hokies, as the Salukis have five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. The game will be televised by ESPNU.