Virginia Tech started slowly, but used a big run in the second half to down the visiting Richmond Spiders 65-53 in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies improve to 10-4 overall, and remain 1-0 in the ACC. Richmond drops to 4-9.
For the first time this season, the Hokies can say they won the game at the free throw line. Virginia Tech was 24-of-31 from the charity stripe, good for 77.4%. Richmond, whose offense revolved around perimeter shots, was just 2-of-5 from the free throw line.
Zabian Dowdell continued his hot free throw shooting by going 8-of-8 from the line. The senior guard led the Hokies in scoring with 22 points, 18 of which came in the second half. He was 6-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. He also finished with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
A.D. Vassallo finished with 11 points for the Hokies, and grabbed six rebounds to lead the team. He was 2-of-5 from three-point range. Coleman Collins also came off the bench to score 11 points. He was 3-of-4 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line.
Following last Saturday’s upset at the hands of Marshall, Seth Greenberg made major changes to the starting lineup. Zabian Dowdell, Jamon Gordon and Coleman Collins came off the bench against the Spiders, and as a result the Hokies found themselves trailing 17-5 early in the game.
As they have been known to do in the past, the Hokies played better as the game progressed. They shot 33.3% in the first half, but nailed 10-of-18 shots in the second half for 55.6%. Showing much more aggression on offense, Tech shot 21 free throws in the second half, hitting 17 of them for 81%. The Hokies also shot well from the outside, hitting 5-of-12 three-point attempts for 41.7%.
Richmond lived early and died late by the three-point shot. The Spiders connected on 11 of their first 19 three-pointers, but they missed their last eight outside shots as the Hokies began to pull away at the end.
After Richmond jumped out to a 17-5 lead, the Hokies began to rally. They embarked on a 14-2 run that would eventually tie the game at 19 with 6:22 left in the first half. Back-to-back three-pointers by Nigel Munson and A.D. Vassallo capped the run, and the Hokies found themselves back in the game.
The game was nearly even for the rest of the half, but a jumper by Drew Crank with 39 seconds remaining put Richmond up 29-26, and they took that lead into the halftime intermission.
Richmond continued to play well into the second half, leading by as many as seven points. A three-pointer by Kevin Hovde gave them a 42-35 lead with 14:15 remaining. Shortly thereafter, the Hokies woke up. Trailing 45-40 with 11:17 left in the game, Tech began a 25-8 run that left Richmond in the dust down the stretch.
Coleman Collins began the run with a free throw, and two Markus Sailes free throws tied the game at 45 with 9:33 remaining. The Hokies took a 48-45 lead on a Zabian Dowdell three-pointer with 8:44 left in the game. The Spiders answered with a three-pointer of their own, but they couldn’t muster enough offense down the stretch to hang with the Hokies.
Virginia Tech gradually extended their lead, and a breakaway Deron Washington slam dunk with two seconds remaining gave them a 65-53 victory.
Virginia Tech returns to action Saturday at noon when they travel to Durham to take on the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN.