UVA used a very good defensive performance and a hot-shooting outside game to down Virginia Tech 69-56 in Charlottesville on Thursday night. The in-state rivals split the season series, and UVA momentarily moves into first place in the ACC with the win. Tech drops to 20-9 overall and 10-5 in ACC play. UVA improves to 20-8 and 11-4 in the ACC.
Looking at the box score, the one thing that jumps out is three-point shooting. Virginia Tech was just 2-of-15 from beyond the arc, while UVA was 10-of-16. A.D. Vassallo was 0-4 from the outside and just 1-of-8 overall. Zabian Dowdell scored 17 points and was the only Hokie in double figures, but he was just 1-of-6 from three-point range.
The Hokies recorded just one steal during the game, a season-low. Their 56 points was also a season-low. Tech won the turnover margin, committing just 10 while forcing 13, but they couldn’t take advantage on the offensive end. The Hokies shot just 36.2% from the field for the game, while the Hoos were 43.6%.
In the first meeting between the two teams, Virginia Tech’s X-Factors won the battle, but this time it was Virginia’s X-Factors who did a better job. Vassallo scored just three points for Tech after scoring 22 in the first meeting. Deron Washington, battling a sickness that kept him from practicing the last two days, had nine points and six rebounds after recording 22 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting.
Virginia’s Mamadi Diane scored just two points in the first meeting, but had 13 points on Thursday. Adrian Joseph didn’t score against the Hokies earlier this month, but he had seven points in the second meeting. Jason Cain had eight points and nine rebounds on Thursday after recording just two points and one rebound in the first meeting.
Jamon Gordon played just 21 minutes because of foul trouble, and only managed six points and four rebounds. He had Tech’s only steal of the game.
The fired up Cavs got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 13-3 lead at the 16:33 mark of the first half. The Hoos were hot early, draining four of their first five three-point attempts. UVA went up by as much as 17-5 with 13:39 left in the half, but Virginia Tech rallied and made a game of it.
Tech went on an 18-3 run and eventually took a 23-20 lead with 5:47 remaining in the first half. Zabian Dowdell scored 11 points during the run, including the first seven. However, UVA countered by going on a 16-3 run that put them up 36-26 with 25 seconds left in the half. Zabian Dowdell scored the final points of the half on two free throws, and the Hoos went into halftime with a 36-28 lead.
UVA started the second half well, jumping out to a 43-31 lead on a three-pointer by J.R. Reynolds with 17:18 remaining. It looked like the Hoos were going to pull away, but the Hokies hung around for most of the second half. Tech went on a quick 7-0 run, and a layup by Zabian Dowdell cut the lead to 43-38 at the 14:54 mark.
UVA quickly jumped back up 48-38, but the Hokies ran off four straight points in their final effort to rally. Markus Sailes threw down a dunk with 12:33 remaining to make the score 48-42, and the Hokies had a short burst of momentum. But a Mamadi Diane three-pointer with a hand in his face put UVA back up 51-42, and the Hokies would never get closer than seven points from that point.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Sunday when they host the Clemson Tigers at 1pm in the final home game in the career of seniors Zabian Dowdell, Jamon Gordon, Coleman Collins, Markus Sailes and Chris Tucker. The game will be televised by Raycom/Lincoln Financial. Check your local listings.