Virginia Tech 73, Miami 57
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP)—Virginia Tech overcame first-half blahs and turned on the heat against Miami for its first 20-win season in 11 years.
The 73-57 victory Saturday at Cassell Coliseum ensures the Hokies (20-8, 10-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) a first-round bye in the ACC tournament.
“I’m just really, really proud of our guys, to win 20 games,” Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said.
Five Hokies were in double figures. They were led by Zabian Dowdell, who scored 20 points to improve on his 18-per-game average.
“Everyone is doing a good job, looking for each other, finding the open spots in the defense,” Dowdell said.
The win gave the Hokies a sweep of the season series against the Hurricanes (11-17, 4-10), who were led by Denis Clemente with 20 points.
“I’m trying to learn from these people,” Clemente said of the Hokies’ senior backcourt duo of Dowdell and Jamon Gordon.
Gordon had 13 points and five assists. Dowdell had eight rebounds and four assists, and they each had three steals.
The two teams traded leads six times in the first half, but Tech went ahead for good 36-35 with 18:49 left on a layup by A.D. Vassallo, who finished with 11 points.
Gordon found Vassallo for a 30-footer from near the top of the key with 7:37 left that gave the Hokies a 53-44 margin.
“That gave us a chance to breathe,” Greenberg said.
The Hokies didn’t stretch the margin to double digits until Deron Washington hit the first of two dunks in a row on handoffs by Gordon with 5:30 left.
“They turned it up to another level in the second half,” Miami coach Frank Haith said. “We weren’t able to match it.”
The Hokies shot 68.8 percent in the second half, while Miami’s percentage went from 45.8 before intermission to 30.3 percent.
“We saw that our shots weren’t falling, so we started to penetrate more and get more movement,” said Washington, who scored 12.
Coleman Collins had 15 points for Tech—10 in the first half.
Jack McClinton scored 12 and Dwayne Collins 11 for Miami.
Clemente had 13 of his points in the first half, which ended in a 32-32 tie, the eighth of the period.
Tech has recovered well from an 81-56 blowout loss at N.C. State last week. The Hokies beat Boston College easily on Wednesday.
The last time the Hokies cracked the 20-game mark was in 1996 when they finished 23-6.