Virginia Tech overcame a sluggish first half to defeat Liberty 58-46 in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies suffered through a bad shooting night from the outside, but rode their defensive prowess to victory. Tech is now 6-4 heading into their ACC opener against Wake Forest. Liberty fell to 5-6 with the loss.
Tech came into this game shooting a little over 40% from three-point range as a team, but despite getting open looks against a tightly packed Liberty zone, they were cold from the outside. The Hokies shot just 39.1% from the field and 26.1% from the outside.
However, Tech played excellent defense, as they’ve been doing all year at home. For the third straight game in Cassell Coliseum, the opponent failed to score 50 points. In five home games this season, only Elon has managed to score more than 51 points against the Hokies. Liberty shot just 38.1% from the field.
Deron Washington led the Hokies in scoring and rebounding, finishing with 17 points and seven boards. He was 6-of-12 from the field. After Seth Greenberg emphasized offensive rebounds in a meeting with Washington on Monday, the senior pulled down four offensive boards against the Flames.
A.D. Vassallo scored 12 points, but he was just 3-of-12 from the field and 2-of-9 from three-point range. Freshman Jeff Allen had 10 points and five rebounds. All 10 of his points came in the final 4:15 of the game. Freshman guard Malcolm Delaney added nine points, all of which came in the first 5:30 of the second half.
Freshman guard Dorenzo Hudson, who just started practicing with the team on Friday, saw his first significant action of the season. He scored two points in seven minutes, fighting though a foul to score on a lean-in jumper.
The Hokies did not play well offensively in the first half, and found themselves trailing 23-21 heading into the intermission. Tech wasn’t very aggressive against Liberty’s frustrating zone defense, and went to the free throw line just three times in the first half. The Hokies also had nine first half turnovers.
Tech started the second half well. They immediately got the ball into the paint to Deron Washington, which they had failed to do the entire first half. Washington responded by hitting a jumper to tie the game at 23. Two possessions later, Malcolm Delaney got aggressive and hit a driving layup while being fouled. He converted the free throw, and then nailed a three-pointer on the Hokies’ next possession.
With the 8-0 run, the Hokies were up 29-23, and were looking more aggressive offensively. The run ended up turning into a 13-2 run, and Tech was up 34-25 at the 13:58 mark of the second half. It wasn’t happening quickly, but the Hokies were taking control of the game.
From that point, Liberty was never able to get within five points. Virginia Tech eventually pushed their lead out to as many as 15 points. Two Jeff Allen free throws made the score 54-39 with 2:18 remaining, and Tech held on for the relatively easy win.
Tech’s aggressiveness in the second half was evident when looking at the free throw stats. The Hokies attempted 17 free throws in the second half, hitting 14 of them. For the game, VT was 16-of-20 (80%) from the line. Over the last two games, they are 33-of-43 (76.7%). They also committed just two second half turnovers, which led to a better offensive performance.
The Hokies open ACC play this Sunday at Wake Forest. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30pm, and the game will be televised by FoxSportsNet.