Hokies Get Defensive in 71-52 Win Over Wake Forest

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Virginia Tech used a stellar second half defensive performance to rout Wake Forest 71-52 in the final ACC quarterfinal game on Friday night. The Hokies earned their first ACC Tournament win in school history, and they improved to 21-10 on the season. They’ll face NC State in the semifinals on Saturday.

The stat of the game was turnover margin. Virginia Tech turned the ball over just two times, the lowest number in ACC Tournament play since NC State had just one turnover against Duke in 1968 in a game that ended with a final score of 12-10. Meanwhile, Tech forced 18 Wake Forest turnovers and grabbed 13 steals in the process. Jamon Gordon led the Hokies with seven steals.

Virginia Tech placed four players in double figures. A.D. Vassallo led the charge with 22 points. He also had five rebounds and two assists. Deron Washington added 13 for Tech, all of which came in the second half.

Zabian Dowdell had a solid all-around line, although he could never get much room to maneuver offensively. He finished with 13 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals. Jamon Gordon had 10 points, seven rebounds, seven steals, five assists, two blocks and zero turnovers.

The Hokies got out to a good start in the first half, leading by as many as 10 points. A Zabian Dowdell layup put Tech up 18-8 at the 13:38 mark of the first half, but Wake Forest spent the rest of the half chipping away at the lead.

Tech got in foul trouble early, with Deron Washington and Coleman Collins picking up two fouls in the first few minutes of the game. As a result, the Hokies played a lot of backups on the inside, and Wake Forest was able to crawl back into the game. The Demon Deacons managed to take a 32-31 lead on a three-pointer by Ishmael Smith with 1:37 left in the half.

The Hokies were able to take the lead back on an A.D. Vassallo three-pointer with 1:05 remaining in the half to make the score 34-32, and they went into half time with a 36-34 lead.

The Hokies got off to a quick start in the second half, going on an 11-3 run to take a 47-37 lead on a Deron Washington breakaway dunk at the 14:31 mark. Wake climbed back into the game and cut the lead to 47-42 with 13:11 remaining, but Tech quickly put the game away.

A.D. Vassallo’s layup with 12:44 remaining made the score 49-42, and it started a 22-5 Virginia Tech run that put the game out of reach. A free throw by Zabian Dowdell with 2:33 remaining capped the run and made the score 69-47. Until Anthony Gurley’s three-pointer with 2:15 remaining in the game, Wake Forest scored just 13 points in the second half.

Even with Gurley’s three-pointer, and a cheap dunk by Cameron Stanley with 15 seconds remaining, Wake Forest scored just 18 points in the second half. The Hokies played stall ball over the last five minutes, led by as many as 22 points, and went on to win 71-52.

The semifinals of the 2007 ACC Tournament are set. North Carolina will play Boston College at 1:30 on Saturday afternoon, and Virginia Tech will take on NC State approximately 30 minutes after the first semifinal game ends. The winners will meet in the finals on Sunday at 1 pm. The semifinals and finals will be televised by ESPN and Raycom/Lincoln Financial.

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