Virginia Tech gradually pulled away from St. John’s in the second half en route to an 81-67 victory in the championship game of the Aeropostale Holiday Festival in Madison Square Garden. This is the Hokies’ second straight Holiday Festival championship, and the win puts them at 8-4 on the season.
Tech got a great performance from point guard Malcolm Delaney for the second day in a row. After scoring 25 points in Saturday’s win over Columbia, Delaney exploded on St. John’s for 22 points, eight assists and five steals. He was 7-of-16 from the field and 3-of-7 from three-point range.
Because of a knee injury to backup point guard Hank Thorns, Delaney played all 40 minutes for the second game in a row. Following the game, he was named the MVP of the Holiday Festival. Last year A.D. Vassallo won the MVP honors.
Delaney was forced to guard the lightning-fast St. John’s point guard, Malik Boothe. To keep him out of foul trouble, Seth Greenberg played zone defense the entire game, throwing both the 1-3-1 and the 2-3 zones at St. John’s, who is a bad three-point shooting team.
The strategy was successful. Delaney only committed three fouls, and St. John’s was just 5-of-21 (23.8%) from the outside. The first four field goals of the game were three-pointers by the Red Storm, but they hit just one more for the remainder of the contest.
A.D. Vassallo made his own case for MVP of the Holiday Festival. He scored 24 points on 8-of-20 shooting against St. John’s, a day after he scored 16 against Columbia. He was 4-of-7 from three-point range. Vassallo also had eight rebounds.
Jeff Allen was the only other Hokie in double figures. He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The other two starters, Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila, scored seven points each. Overall, it was Virginia Tech’s best performance of the season.
J.T. Thompson played in his second game since returning from injury. Though he only had two points for the second straight day, he did pull down 10 rebounds and was very energetic on the court. The Hokies outrebounded a bigger St. John’s team 42-34. They had a total of 18 offensive rebounds.
The Hokies led 39-35 at halftime, and found themselves ahead 49-47 after the opening few minutes of the second half. However, and 10-0 run put Tech up 59-47 with 13:50 remaining in the game, and St. John’s was never able to seriously threaten the rest of the way.
Virginia Tech will take the rest of the week off before taking on Charleston Southern on Monday, December 29. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by FSN South and CSN.