Vassallo Leads Tech Past Fairfield in Puerto Rico

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A.D. Vassallo made a big splash in his return to his home, scoring 24 points as Virginia Tech knocked off Fairfield 74-57 in the quarterfinals of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Hokies are now 3-0 on the season, and they’ll play Xavier tomorrow.

Vassallo scored 24 points in 33 minutes of action. He was 9-of-16 from the field, and 3-of-8 from three-point range. He helped the Hokies have their best shooting night of the season thus far. Tech shot 27-of-48 (56.3%) from the field, and 9-of-21 (42.9%) from three-point range.

Vassallo wasn’t the only player who was hot for the Hokies. Sophomore forward Jeff Allen added 18 points, and was an impressive 4-of-5 from three-point range. Allen also pulled down eight rebounds and blocked a career-high five shots. Tech had eight blocks as a team.

Malcolm Delaney, Tech’s third offensive weapon, added 10 points, four assists and two steals. Freshman forward Victor Davila had a solid game, adding nine points and two rebounds. He played 17 minutes, while Lewis Witcher saw just five minutes of action. The Hokies also got decent production from Cheick Diakite, who had seven points and four rebounds.

Virginia Tech still isn’t getting much production from their second guard spot. Dorenzo Hudson struggled again. He didn’t score, and he attempted just two shots in 19 minutes. He has scored just four points for the season, and is just 1-of-12 from the field.

Terrell Bell did have a decent day off the bench in relief of Hudson. Bell scored four points, grabbed three rebounds and also dished out three assists.

After turning the ball over 20 times against Mount St. Mary’s on Monday night, Tech had just 10 turnovers against Fairfield. Overall, the offensive execution was much better.

There were still some close moments in this game, however. Virginia Tech took a 36-21 lead with 4:51 remaining in the first half on two free throws from A.D. Vassallo. At that point, the Hokies promptly fell asleep for the remainder of the half. Fairfield was able to cut the lead down to seven points, though a jumper from Vassallo with 32 seconds remaining gave the Hokies a 40-31 lead heading into halftime.

In the early part of the second half, Tech began to pull away again. They scored the first five points of the half and took a 45-31 lead. However, the Stags rallied again. Over the next five minutes, Fairfield went on a 16-6 run and pulled within four points, 51-47, with 12:38 left in the game. It looked like the Hokies were letting a big lead slip away for the second time this year.

However, Jeff Allen answered with a three-pointer to take the lead back out to seven points, 54-47. That shot was the beginning of a 9-0 run, which Allen began with a three-pointer and ended with a thunderous dunk. By the end of the run, it was 60-47, and the Stags never seriously threatened again. Tech led by as many as 21 points down the stretch before pulling their starters.

The Hokies will return to action on Friday at 1:30pm EST. They’ll take on Xavier, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.

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