The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team lost their fourth consecutive game on Saturday night, dropping an 81-72 decision to #22 Maryland in the Comcast Center. The Hokies had to play the majority of the game without point guard Jamon Gordon, who got in early foul trouble, and then suffered an ankle injury early in the second half. Tech led by one point at halftime, but poor three-point shooting and bad rebounding doomed them down the stretch.
The Hokies played much better offensively in this game than they did in the last two against UNC and Virginia. They shot 45.3% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line, but were hurt by their performance from the outside. Tech was just 2-of-13 from three-point range. The Hokies’ top three-point threat, Zabian Dowdell, was just 1-of-7.
Despite not finding any success from the outside, Dowdell had a very good game. He finished with a team-high 21 points and shot 8-of-19 from the field. He also had six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Dowdell also played a team-high 39 minutes. He also eclipsed the 1,000 point mark for the Hokies, and now has 1,007 career points.
Junior center Coleman Collins kept the Hokies in the game early. Collins scored Virginia Tech’s first 12 points of the game, going 5-of-7 from the field in the process. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, he could not keep up the pace. He did not score again until the 2:33 mark of the second half. He finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting and grabbed six rebounds.
Jamon Gordon only played 14 minutes because of foul trouble and an injury. The junior from Jacksonville, FL was averaging 34.9 minutes per game and leads the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio. But Gordon was effective in the final ten minutes of the game, scoring nine points down the stretch. He also had three rebounds and an assist. He is expected to play Thursday against Duke.
The Terrapins entered the game leading the ACC in scoring, averaging 82.5 points per game. In their last three games in the Comcast Center, Maryland had scored at least 90 points. Tech did a good job defensively, but the Terrapins hit their free throws (20-of-28) and the Hokies were without Gordon, their best defender, for much of the game.
Thanks to Coleman Collins, the Hokies came out of the gates and took an early lead. Tech led 12-7 with 14:10 remaining in the first half. However they didn’t get a basket from anyone besides Collins until Markus Sailes hit a jumper at the 11:56 mark, and Maryland was able to keep the game close. The Terrapins eventually took the lead from Tech, and led by as many as five points in the first half on Ekene Ibekwe’s free throws with 8:51 left.
The Hokies came right back and tied the game at 28 on a Deron Washington layup with 4:12 remaining in the half. Washington was fouled on the play, and he converted the free throw to give Tech a one point lead. The entire first half was back-and-forth, with 11 lead changes and five ties. Zabian Dowdell hit two free throws with ten seconds left in the half, and the Hokies took a 38-37 lead into the intermission.
But the offensive-minded Terrapins would come out firing on all cylinders in the second half. Maryland shot 60% from the field in the final 20 minutes, and connected on 12 of their 15 free throw attempts. The Hokies also shot well in the second half at 50%, but could not keep up with the scorching Terp offense. Maryland outscored Tech 27-13 to start the second half and jumped out to a 64-51 lead with 8:48 remaining in the game.
Jamon Gordon returned to the Tech lineup at that point and the Hokies began to play better, but it was too late. Virginia Tech cut the lead to six points on four different occasions down the stretch, but Maryland’s Chris McCray, the ACC’s leading free-throw shooter, connected on all six of his free throw attempts in the final 50 seconds to seal the victory.
The loss drops Virginia Tech to 10-8 overall and 0-5 in the ACC. The Hokies will return to action on Thursday night when they face #1 Duke at 7 pm on ESPN. Duke lost 87-84 on Saturday afternoon at Georgetown. The Blue Devils are now 17-1 overall, 5-0 in the ACC.