A trio of freshmen propelled Virginia Tech to a 69-52 victory over Eastern Washington in their first game of the Great Alaska Shootout early Thursday morning. The Hokies improved to 2-0 on the season with the win, and will take on #22 Butler on Friday night. The winner of that game will play in the championship game on Saturday.
In Virginia Tech’s first game against Elon, Jeff Allen exploded onto the scene with a double-double. In this game, it was Malcolm Delaney. The freshman guard from Baltimore scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He was 4-of-6 from three-point range. Delaney nailed his first four three-point attempts before missing his last two. He was also a perfect 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
Delaney also finished with four rebounds, two assists and a steal. He gave the Hokies a major spark when they were struggling offensively in the first half.
His backcourt mate, 5-9 freshman guard Hank Thorns, also played a good game. Thorns scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He was 2-of-3 from three-point range. He also dished out two assists. Both freshmen guards saw 28 minutes of playing time.
Jeff Allen didn’t let them get all the glory. The freshman forward got off to a slow start offensively, but he came through down the stretch as the Hokies ran away with the win. Allen scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. He added two assists and two steals, one of which he took the distance for a breakaway dunk.
Senior forward Deron Washington added 10 points and six rebounds, but he was just 2-of-8 from the field. Washington attempted an uncharacteristic four three-pointers, but could only connect on one of them. A.D. Vassallo added 11 points, and was 3-of-6 from three-point range. He had a team-high four assists.
As a team, Virginia Tech was 25-of-49 from the field, including an impressive 10-of-20 from the outside. The Hokies out-rebounded Eastern Washington 31-24.
It was a solid victory for the Hokies, considering it was just their second game of the season, and they had not played in 12 days. Eastern Washington had already played four games before taking on Tech. With the win, the Hokies have guaranteed themselves at least a fourth place finish in the eight-team event.
The Hokies now have a very challenging game on Friday night with Butler, who advanced to the Sweet 16 last season. Butler is ranked #22 in the nation, and starts five seniors. They set the Great Alaska Shootout record for most three-pointers in a game by connecting on 17 shots from the outside in their 79-65 victory over Michigan.
Tech and Butler will tip-off on Friday night at 9:30pm Eastern. The game will be available on ESPN360.