Virginia Tech trailed Navy at halftime, but they rallied in the second half to pull out a 79-70 win in the BB&T Classic in Washington, DC on Sunday. A big 17-1 second half run fueled the comeback. With the win, the Hokies are now 5-3 on the season. They have another big road game coming up on Tuesday at Georgia.
The Hokies suffered through a poor first half, and as a result trailed 34-28 at the break. Tech shot just 9-of-30 from the field in the first 20 minutes of play, including an 0-of-8 mark from three-point range. They also committed 11 turnovers in the first half.
The second half was a different story. Tech had just five turnovers in the second half. They were also 15-of-24 from the field (62.5%) and 2-of-5 (40%) from three-point range. The Hokies turned it on after halftime and led by as many as 13 points in the second half.
The biggest factor in the game was free throw shooting. The Hokies were 29-of-34 from the free throw line, good for 85.3%. Tech is now shooting 76.2% from the charity stripe this year. That ranks second in the ACC, a welcome change from past seasons.
Malcolm Delaney paced the Hokies with 21 points. He was 4-of-8 from the field, and he hit both of Tech’s three-pointers against the Midshipmen. He was a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line. Delaney also had six rebounds, a team-high five assists, two blocks and a steal.
A.D. Vassallo had a tough night shooting, going just 5-of-18 from the floor. He also had six turnovers. However, he was 7-of-7 from the free throw line and finished with 17 points. He also added eight rebounds and two blocks.
Jeff Allen also scored 17 points for the Hokies, and he was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Tech’s top three players – Vassallo, Allen and Delaney – combined to go 23-of-23 from the charity stripe.
The Hokies also got one of their role players to step up. Hank Thorns came off the bench to play 25 minutes and score 10 points. He was 4-of-6 from the field, had two assists, and turned the ball over just once.
After a bad first half, Virginia Tech came out hitting on all cylinders in the second half. A jumper by Romeo Garcia at the 17:53 mark gave Navy a 36-32 lead. From that point, it was all Hokies. Two free throws by Hank Thorns brought Tech within two points, and they were also the beginning of a 17-1 Tech run.
Malcolm Delaney capped the run with a three-pointer at the 14:03 mark that gave the Hokies a 49-37 lead. Tech had outscored Navy 17-1 in a span of 3:31, and they were firmly in control from that point to the end of the game.
Navy did manage to make it somewhat interesting towards the end. The Midshipmen hit three three-pointers in the final 1:50 of the game, and cut the Tech lead to 73-69 with 39 seconds remaining. However, Tech outscored Navy 6-1 from the free throw line down the stretch to preserve the win.
The Hokies return to action on Tuesday night when they travel to Athens to take on Georgia, the defending SEC Tournament Champions. Tip-off is schedule for 7pm, and the game will be televised by regional sports networks. Check your local listings to see if the game is available in your area.