Hokies Beat St. John’s, Win Holiday Festival

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It was an ugly game, but the Hokies got it done. Virginia Tech knocked off St. John’s 54-48 to become the 2007 Aeropostale Holiday Festival Champions. Tech closed out a close game in the final few minutes and improved their overall record to 8-5. They have two out-of-conference games remaining against Richmond and Charleston Southern before hitting the meat of their ACC schedule.

A.D. Vassallo was Tech’s leading scorer, dropping 16 points on the Red Storm on 5-of-12 shooting. He was 2-of-4 from three-point range. He also pulled down seven rebounds. For his performance over the last two days, he was named tournament MVP.

Deron Washington was the only other Hokie in double figures, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Jeff Allen got in foul trouble and played just 19 minutes, finishing with eight points and four rebounds. Washington and Allen both contributed three steals.

The unsung hero of the game was junior forward Cheick Diakite. Diakite played 25 minutes because his style of play is very helpful in tough, physical games like this one. He didn’t score a single point, but he helped the team by grabbing four rebounds and blocking seven shots. He had one more blocked shot than the entire St. John’s team.

Both teams committed 20 turnovers, and neither shot well from the field. In the end, the Hokies were a bit better. St. John’s was just 15-of-53 from the field for 28.3%. In the second half they were only 5-of-19, and that includes two late three-pointers that they normally wouldn’t have attempted had the clock not been running down. The Red Storm were 14-of-18 from the free throw line, and all those attempts came in the second half.

The Hokies obviously didn’t play well offensively, but they were better than St. John’s. Tech was 18-of-49 from the field for 36.7%. They only attempted seven three-pointers, but nailed three of them. They were 15-of-22 from the free throw line, and all but three of those attempts came in the second half.

Virginia Tech out-rebounded St. John’s 39-33 behind the efforts of Washington and Vassallo.

After failing to close out an almost certain win at Wake Forest last Sunday, the Hokies did much better this time. They didn’t turn the ball over down the stretch, and nailed 6-of-8 shots from the free throw line in the final moments.

Virginia Tech returns to action on Thursday, January 3. The Hokies will take on Richmond on the road. The game will tip-off at 6pm, and the game will be televised by CSTV.

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