Virginia Tech returned to the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum and got a much needed 65-51 victory over UNC-Asheville on Saturday night in Blacksburg. The Hokies had to work hard for this one, as they trailed at one point in the second half, but they ran away with the game at the end. Tech improved to 3-3 with the win, while UNC-Asheville dropped to 6-2.
Tech’s most experienced players, Deron Washington and A.D. Vassallo, led the way with 17 points each. Washington was 7-of-12 from the field, including a number of jumpers that he is not known for making. He also led the team with eight rebounds in 35 minutes of action.
Vassallo was 3-of-5 from three-point range, and he also had five rebounds, three assists and two steals, while committing just one turnover. Vassallo and Washington helped the Hokies out-rebound UNC-Asheville 42-28. Tech had 18 offensive rebounds.
Lewis Witcher came off the bench to give the Hokies a great spark. He finished with 11 points and four rebounds. Freshman Jeff Allen was saddled with foul trouble early in the game and scored just two points. However, he did contribute with two blocks and two steals, both tied for tops on the team.
Tech played well defensively for most of the game, holding Asheville to just 32.1% shooting. The Hokies shot 42.9% from the field, and 50% from three-point range. They were also 11-of-15 from the free throw line, a 73.3% mark.
Tech controlled the game in the first half, leading by as many as 10 points on two occasions. They weren’t playing well offensively, but UNC-Asheville had 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes while attempting just 19 shots. Tech turned the ball over just five times in the first half and led 32-23 heading into the break.
The second half was a different story. The Hokies turned the ball over 10 times in the second half, and scored just seven points in the first 12 minutes of the half. Things got dicey with 6:55 remaining, when UNC-Asheville’s James Vincent scored on a layup and was fouled by Hank Thorns. Vincent hit the free throw, and UNC-Asheville led 44-41. The Hokies had been outscored 21-9 in the second half and looked lost offensively.
However, Tech stepped it up after they realized they could lose the game. They went on an 18-2 run, hitting UNC-Asheville from the inside, the outside, as well as the free throw line. After trailing by three with 6:55 to go, the Hokies led 59-46 with 2:09 remaining in the game.
Virginia Tech led by as many as 16 points on two Terrell Bell free throws with 21 seconds remaining. A last second layup by James Vincent made the final score 65-51.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Tuesday night, when they host UNC-Greensboro in Cassell Coliseum. UNC-Greensboro has already defeated Georgia Tech this year, and they will enter the game sporting a 3-2 record. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm, and the game will be shown online on ACCSelect. There is no television for the game.