NIT First Round:
Virginia Tech 60, Temple 50

by Chris James, TechSideline.com, 3/15/05

Blacksburg, VA -- The Virginia Tech Hokies used a strong defensive effort and played nearly turnover-free basketball to down the Temple Owls 60-50 in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night, in front of 7,416 fans. The Hokies had a tough night shooting, only connecting on 32.7% of their shots, but their defensive effort proved too much for Temple, who has struggled offensively all season. Zabian Dowdell led Tech in scoring with 16 points. Carlos Dixon added 15 points and 9 rebounds.

Virginia Tech got off to a slow start in this contest, missing 12 of their first 13 field goal attempts. Because of the Hokiesí bad start offensively, the Owls were able to jump out to an 11-3 lead at the 12:28 mark, prompting Tech head coach Seth Greenberg to call a 30 second timeout. Immediately following the timeout, Carlos Dixon hit a 3-pointer and Tech went on a 14-5 run to take a 17-16 lead on a Jamon Gordon fast break layup.

The rest of the first half was a nip and tuck affair, with each team continuing to struggle on the offensive end. However, the Hokies found some firepower in the final 3:37 of the first half when they brought in little-used freshman guard Wynton Witherspoon. Witherspoon immediately responded with a 3-pointer that tied the game at 20. At the end of the half, with Tech up 28-25, Witherspoon hit another 3-pointer at the buzzer from the corner that gave the Hokies a 6 point cushion, 31-26.

Witherspoon continued to give the Hokies a spark in the second half. With Tech up 33-30 at the 15:16 mark, Witherspoon blocked a Mark Tyndale jumper in the lane, then raced the other way on the fast break and was the recipient of an outstanding bounce pass from Carlos Dixon, which Witherspoon converted for the layup. He was also fouled on the play and successfully converted the 3-point play. Witherspoon finished with 9 points in 15 minutes of action.

Tech continued to pull away in the second half, extending their lead to as many as 14 points. While the final margin of 10 points was comfortable, the Hokies didnít give themselves as much breathing room as they could have with their free throw shooting. As a team, the Hokies shot 59.3% for the game from the charity stripe, including a poor 11-20 effort in the second half.

In a game that was not exactly an offensive playerís dream, the Hokies weathered the storm of Templeís 2-3 matchup zone and did the little things they needed to do to win the game. The Hokies, facing the biggest team they have faced all year, outrebounded Temple 41-37. Tech grabbed an amazing 21 offensive rebounds during the game. Coleman Collins, who posted another double-double for the Hokies with 11 points and 13 boards, led the team in rebounding.

Perhaps the most important statistic was turnovers. The Hokies turned the ball over just 5 times during the game, and just once after intermission. Temple, the best team in the nation in the turnover category, turned the ball over 10 times.

This was Virginia Tech's first-ever win over Temple, and the first victory in a postseason tournament since the Hokies defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament. With the victory, the Hokies improve to 16-13 for the season and await the winner of Wednesday night's game between Northeastern and Memphis. There is no official word from the NIT yet on the location of the game, but WSLS-10 sports director Justin Ditmore reported that ESPN officials told him that ESPN would return to Cassell to televise a second-round game Saturday night, March 19th.

In other NIT action Tuesday night, South Carolina defeated Miami, Holy Cross beat Notre Dame, DePaul beat Missouri, and Western Michigan won over Marquette (Monday night). For the complete NIT bracket, click here.


NIT FIRST ROUND

TEMPLE (50)

                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
A Robinson          37   4-7   2-3   0-3   0   2   14
W Marshall          23   1-5   0-0   3-4   0   3    2
K Butler            18   0-1   0-0   0-3   0   5    0
M Tyndale           35  3-12   0-0   1-6   2   1    7
M Collins           40  6-19   2-2  7-13   3   2   16
D Salisbery         25   2-5   2-3   1-3   1   3    6
D Dacons             5   0-0   0-0   0-1   0   2    0
C Clark              4   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
D Kirkendoll         9   1-4   0-0   0-1   1   1    3
N Ingram             4   0-0   2-2   1-1   0   0    2
  
_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 17-53  8-10 13-35   7  19   50
_____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.321, FT-.800. 3-Point Goals:
8-23, .348 (A Robinson 4-6, M Tyndale 1-3, M 
Collins 2-7, D Salisbery 0-3, D Kirkendoll 
1-4). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 1 (D 
Salisbery). Turnovers: 9 (M Collins 2, M 
Tyndale 2, W Marshall 2, K Butler, D 
Salisbery, A Robinson). Steals: 3 (D 
Salisbery, M Tyndale, W Marshall).


VIRGINIA TECH (60)

                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
D Washington        25   1-4   0-2   3-4   3   3    2
C Dixon             38  5-16   2-2   4-9   3   1   15
C Collins           36   2-7  7-10  9-13   0   0   11
Z Dowdell           33  4-12  5-10   0-2   3   2   16
J Gordon            40  3-11   1-2   4-8   3   2    7
B Ritchie            1   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
S Harris             3   0-1   0-0   0-2   0   1    0
W Witherspoon       15   3-4   1-1   0-1   0   1    9
R Krabbendam         2   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
A Calloway           3   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
J King               3   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
C Tucker             1   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
  
_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 18-55 16-27 20-39  12  10   60
_____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.327, FT-.593. 3-Point Goals:
8-25, .320 (C Dixon 3-9, Z Dowdell 3-9, J 
Gordon 0-3, S Harris 0-1, W Witherspoon 2-3).
Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 6 (C Dixon 
2, J Gordon 2, W Witherspoon, J King). 
Turnovers: 5 (D Washington 2, Z Dowdell, J 
Gordon). Steals: 5 (J Gordon 4, Z Dowdell).


-----------------------------------
TEMPLE               25  25   -  50
VIRGINIA TECH        31  29   -  60
----------------------------------- 

Technical fouls: None. A: 7,416. Officials: Duke 
Edsall, Larry Rose, Sean Hull


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