Hokies Stomp Wake, Help NCAA Tournament Chances

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In a game that was expected to be tight, Deron Washington led Virginia Tech to an 80-58 blowout victory over Wake Forest on his Senior Night, strengthening the Hokies’ chances for an NCAA tournament berth. Tech improved to 18-11 overall and 9-6 in the ACC with the win. Wake Forest dropped to 16-12 overall and 6-9 in conference play. Their NCAA tournament hopes are virtually gone.

Deron Washington saved perhaps the finest game of his career for his last game in Cassell Coliseum. The senior forward scored 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked two shots. Washington was 8-of-13 from the field, 2-of-3 from three-point range and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.

The other senior, former walk-on guard Marcus Travis, started the first game of his career, and he played very well. The first offensive play of the game was designed for him, and he broke free near the top of the key and drove in for a layup, putting Tech up 2-0 and setting the tone for the game. Travis finished with two points, one rebound, three assists, two steals and no turnovers in 12 minutes of action.

Tech’s leading scorer, A.D. Vassallo, also played a fine game. He finished with 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and just one turnover. Vassallo was heavily criticized for his seven turnover performance at Wake Forest earlier in the year, but he more than made up for it on Tuesday night.

The Hokies also got 13 points and five rebounds from Jeff Allen, who played just 22 minutes because of foul trouble. Fellow freshman forward J.T. Thompson grabbed 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.

Sophomore forward Lewis Witcher played yet another good game, finishing with six points and three rebounds. He also blocked a shot and had a steal in 17 minutes of action. Despite playing without Cheick Diakite, who is nursing a dislocated finger, the Tech frontcourt dominated Wake Forest, out-rebounding them 48-30.

Perhaps the most impressive stat of the game was Tech’s 21 assists on 29 made field goals. The Hokies committed just 10 turnovers. Hank Thorns led the team with five assists. Wake Forest had just four assists the entire game.

Unlike many other Virginia Tech games against ACC opponents this year, this one was never even close. The Hokies jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, and by the 14:11 mark of the first half they had extended it out to 17-3.

From that point, the closest Wake Forest came was at the 12:41 mark when Jeff Teague nailed a three-pointer to make the score 18-9. That didn’t last long, as Vassallo answered with a three-pointer of his own to make the score 21-9.

Teague was the only Wake Forest player to do much of anything on Tuesday, finishing with 25 points. Freshman forward James Johnson, who came into the game averaging 15 points and 8.4 rebounds, had just three points and four rebounds. He only played 16 minutes.

Virginia Tech dominated the rest of the first half, leading by as many as 22 points, and they eventually took a 47-26 lead into the halftime intermission.

The second half was more of the same. The Hokies began the half with a 15-6 run, which was capped by a Malcolm Delaney pull-up jumper to make the score 62-32 with 14:36 remaining in the game. Wake Forest couldn’t manage to get the deficit any closer than 18 points the rest of the way, and a Dorenzo Hudson three-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire with 19 seconds left gave VT an 80-58 lead, which they held for the remainder of the game.

The Hokies have now clinched a winning record in ACC play. Their final regular season game will be on Sunday at Clemson. With a win at Clemson, Tech will be the #3 seed in the ACC tournament. A loss will put them at #4 or #5, depending on what Miami does this week. If Miami defeats Boston College and Florida State and finishes 9-7, they will own the tiebreaker over Tech. If Miami loses to one of those teams, the Hokies will finish ahead of the ‘Canes by a game in the standings, get the #4 seed in the ACC tournament, and secure a first round bye.

Tip-off for the Clemson game is scheduled for 1:30. The game will be televised by Raycom. Check the Game Info Center on our basketball message board for a link to local stations carrying the game.

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