The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team won their third consecutive game on Monday night, knocking off the Marshall Thundering Herd 71-54 in Cassell Coliseum. The win takes the Hokies to 4-1 on the season, while Marshall drops to 0-2. Tech, which is missing two starters in Coleman Collins and Wynton Witherspoon, got good contributions from a lot of different players, including sophomore Deron Washington. Washington led the Hokies in scoring for the second straight game with 17 points. He also had six rebounds and blocked three shots.
Despite being outrebounded 42-29 by Marshall, the Hokies did a good job of protecting the basketball. Tech only had six turnovers for the game and just two in the second half. Marshall had 17 turnovers for the game. VT once again played unselfish basketball, recording 13 assists. Junior guard Jamon Gordon led the team with seven assists. Gordon had an outstanding game overall, also adding 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He was 3-of-4 from three-point range.
Freshman Cheick Diakite started in place of Collins, who is home dealing with family issues. Diakite only scored two points, but he had five rebounds, including four offensive rebounds. He also recorded a team high five blocked shots and did not turn the ball over. Collins is expected back for the Morgan State game on Friday night.
The Hokies also got big contributions from junior guard Zabian Dowdell and junior forward Chris Tucker. Dowdell only played five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, but still scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and had four steals. Tucker came off the bench and played 23 minutes. He played good defense, scored six points and grabbed two rebounds.
Without Coleman Collins in the lineup, Marshall was able to beat the Hokies on the inside. They outrebounded Tech and outscored the Hokies in the paint 26-18. Tech was able to make up for that margin by outscoring the Thundering Herd 21-6 in points off turnovers. The Hokies got 15 points from their bench, led by freshman forward A.D. Vassallo with seven points.
Marshall was able to hang with the Hokies early in the game, taking a 4-0 lead on a Travis Aikens’ layup with 16:11 remaining in the first half. Aikens did it all for Marshall, leading the team in scoring with 16 points. Despite his 6-4 frame, he also led the team in rebounding with 11.
Virginia Tech did not get on the scoreboard until the 15:46 mark in the first half when Jamon Gordon drilled a three-pointer to make the score 4-3 Marshall. The Thundering Herd would also lead 8-5 on a jumper from Mason Wooldridge at the 14:08 mark, but that would be the last time they would lead during the game. Jamon Gordon would answer Wooldridge’s shot with another three-pointer, tying the game at 8.
Gordon’s three-pointer would begin a 14-0 run that would be capped by a Chris Tucker three-pointer 9:45 remaining in the first half. Tucker’s shot put Tech up 19-8. The run included back-to-back highlight dunks by Gordon and Deron Washington. The first came from Gordon, who found a seam in the defense and threw down a one-hander to make the score 14-8 Tech. Deron Washington would get a steal on the ensuing possession and breakaway for a dunk that put the Hokies on top 16-8. Tucker’s three-pointer would come next, and the Hokies would lead for the remainder of the game. Virginia Tech took a 34-26 lead into halftime.
Marshall would put together a small run in the second half. Sophomore guard Joe Miles scored on a breakaway layup with 15:03 remaining in the game to make the score 40-35 Hokies. Virginia Tech would respond by scoring five consecutive points capped by a 3-pointer by Jamon Gordon.
The Thundering Herd then scored the next five points to cut the lead to 45-40 with 12:45 left in the game. After this final run by Marshall, the Hokies would put the game away by going on an 11-1 run to extend their lead to 56-41 with 7:18 left in the game. From there Tech coasted to a relatively easy victory.
The Hokies have three days off before hosting Morgan State on Friday night in Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm and the game will not be televised.