The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team continued their streak of good play on Saturday, knocking off the visiting St. John’s Red Storm 73-64 in a rematch of former Big East rivals. The Hokies placed four players in double figures, including Coleman Collins who scored a game-high 21 points. Tech moves to 7-3 on the season with the victory, while St. John’s drops to 5-2.
The Red Storm were known for their defense coming into the game, but the Hokies were able to execute their offensive sets for the most part and shot 52.9% from the field. Coleman Collins hit nine of his13 shot attempts, and threw down several thunderous dunks. Despite their good shooting performance, Tech kept St. John’s in the game with poor free throw shooting. They hit just 15-of-24 (62.5%) shots from the charity stripe.
St. John’s towered over Tech on the inside and outrebounded the Hokies in typical Big East fashion by a margin of 36-24. Four of Tech’s rebounds were listed as team rebounds, so that means there were only 20 rebounds registered by actual players during the game, or one rebound every two minutes. The Hokies made up for this by shooting the ball well and winning the turnover battle. They forced 18 Red Storm turnovers and committed just nine of their own. They also scored 21 points off turnovers, compared to just ten for St. John’s.
The Hokies won this game despite Jamon Gordon playing only 24 minutes with foul trouble. The junior guard from Jacksonville played just eight minutes in the first half. Despite his lack of playing time, Gordon still managed to score five points, dish out four assists and grab three rebounds. He also had four of Tech’s nine steals. He did not commit a turnover.
Tech got an unexpected good game from junior guard/forward Markus Sailes. Not known for his offensive ability, Sailes scored 11 points, including a deep three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down. He was 3-of-4 from the field and hit all four of his free throw shots. Sailes did not practice on Thursday because of an injury sustained during the North Carolina A&T game on Wednesday night, and he was listed as questionable heading into Saturday’s game. He also played good defense against St. John’s athletic backcourt, finishing with three steals to his credit.
Deron Washington and Zabian Dowdell also had good games for Tech. Washington finished with ten points, and Dowdell scored 18.
The Hokies were behind just once in this game. They trailed 2-0 following Lamont Hamilton’s dunk with 18:45 left in the first half. The St. John’s lead would not last long. Virginia Tech responded by going on an 11-0 run. Coleman Collins had six points during the run, including two thunderous dunks. With 15:44 left before intermission, Tech led 11-2.
Virginia Tech would extend it’s lead to 13 at the 9:01 mark in the first half. Coleman Collins threw down yet another dunk to take the Hokies’ lead to 22-9. At this point St. John’s would make a run, outscoring Tech 20-9 for the remainder of the half. Jamon Gordon was on the bench in foul trouble at this point, and the offense did not run as smoothly without him on the court. St. John’s leading scorer, guard Darryl Hill, was held scoreless for the majority of the first half until hit three layups in the final 1:29. The Hokies took a 31-29 lead into intermission.
Tech would go on an 8-0 run in the first 2:17 of the second half. Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon each hit a three-pointer during the run, and Coleman Collins capped it off with a jumper in the lane. The Hokies now led 39-29, but the Red Storm would battle back yet again.
The game would be nip and tuck the rest of the way. St. John’s got in major foul trouble in the second half, but Tech kept them in the game by not capitalizing on the majority of their trips to the line.
Collins went on a big scoring tear with 12:03 to go. The junior from Stone Mountain, Georgia hit three free throws, and then had dunks on three consecutive possessions to put the Hokies up 54-48. Virginia Tech would keep the Red Storm at arm’s length for the remainder of the game, leading by as many as 11 points with 1:24 to play.
The Hokies will take a break for exams, and then will head west to Las Vegas where they will take on the Stanford Cardinal next Saturday night/Sunday morning. The game will tip-off at 12:30am Eastern time and will be televised by ESPN.