Trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team rallied to beat Stanford 59-52 late Saturday night in Las Vegas. The Cardinal led the Hokies 30-21 at halftime, but Tech used a great defensive performance and an improved offensive game in the second half to get the come-from-behind victory. The win takes Virginia Tech to 8-3 overall, while Stanford drops to 2-4.
Coleman Collins led the way for Virginia Tech with his fourth double-double in the last six games. Collins finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He recorded six of the Hokies’ 15 offensive rebounds. He had a big second half, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the final frame. Collins’ counterpart, Stanford center Matt Haryasz, finished with 17 points and ten rebounds.
Junior guard/forward Markus Sailes also had a big game for Virginia Tech. Sailes scored ten points and hit a critical three-pointer late in the game to put the Hokies up 56-50. He also grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists and committed zero turnovers. As usual, Sailes also played a tremendous defensive game.
Sophomore forward Deron Washington gave the Hokies a big spark, scoring seven points and grabbing eight rebounds. Like Collins, Washington was a force on the offensive glass with four offensive rebounds, including a skying dunk off a missed free throw. He also blocked two shots and recorded a steal.
Jamon Gordon had his usual solid game for Virginia Tech. Gordon scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds, had four assists and committed just one turnover. For the game the Hokies had just seven turnovers and forced 12 by Stanford.
It was a brilliant defensive performance for the Hokies, who held Stanford to just 16 field goals, and just seven in the second half. The Cardinal shot 39% for the game. Tech also shot 39%, but they took 59 shots, as opposed to just 41 for Stanford. Stanford was able to stay in the game at the free throw line, hitting 16-of-24 attempts (66.7%). The Hokies nearly gave the game away by shooting poorly from the charity stripe, hitting just 8-of-17 shots (47.1%).
Virginia Tech also played much tougher in the second half on the boards. Stanford outrebounded the Hokies 21-14 in the first half, but Tech dominated the glass in the final 20 minutes, winning the rebounding margin for the game 39-34. That includes 15 offensive rebounds for the Hokies, 12 of which came in the second half. Tech outscored the Cardinal 15-10 in second chance points. The Hokies also scored 30 points in the paint, compared to just 14 for Stanford.
In the first half the Hokies looked very much like a team that traveled to another time zone to play a late-night game. Tech fell behind early, trailing 11-4 at the 13:07 mark of the first half. They did not get on the scoreboard until the 16 minute mark when Deron Washington scored on a layup attempt. Stanford was using a 2-3 zone defense, and the Hokies had no answer for it.
Virginia Tech had one small run in them in the first half. Freshman forward A.D. Vassallo hit a three-pointer with 9:06 to go in the half to put the Hokies up 15-14. However that would be the only Virginia Tech lead of the half. Stanford responded by going on a 13-0 run that was capped by two Chris Hernandez free throws with 3:49 remaining in the half. At that point the Cardinal led 27-15, and things looked bleak for Tech.
Markus Sailes would rally the Hokies however, hitting two runners in the lane in the final minutes. Chris Tucker also added a layup, and Virginia Tech went into halftime trailing 30-21.
The Hokies would come out firing on all cylinders in the second half. Jamon Gordon found Coleman Collins underneath for a dunk on their first possession, and Gordon would follow that up with a layup of his own on Tech’s next possession. He was also fouled on the play, and completed the three-point play with a free throw.
Then the Hokies went on an 8-0 run that would last until the 15:15 mark of the second half. In that span, Virginia Tech grabbed six offensive rebounds and scored four second-chance points. A jumper by Coleman Collins capped the run and tied the game at 34. From that point on, the game would be nip and tuck.
The lead would change hands several times, with neither team able to get into an offensive rhythm and pull away to a comfortable margin. The Hokies would take their first lead of the half at the 10:01 mark when Deron Washington followed up a missed Coleman Collins free throw with a dunk. Tech led 41-40 at that point, but Stanford would come back. With the game tied at 42, Chris Hernandez hit a deep three-pointer from the left wing to give the Cardinal a 45-42 lead with 8:52 to play.
Stanford would continue to hold a three-point lead until late in the game. Dan Grunfeld hit a layup with 4:37 remaining to put the Cardinal up 50-47, but the Hokies would close the game with a 12-2 run. Coleman Collins, Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon all scored on layups, and the Hokies led 53-50 with 2:19 remaining in the game. With 27 seconds remaining in the game and the shot clock winding down, Markus Sailes hit a huge three-pointer from the left wing to put Tech up 56-50. Stanford was not able mount a serious threat down the stretch.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Tuesday, December 27 when they host William & Mary. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm and the game will not be televised.