BLACKSBURG, Va. – Jamel Waters led four players in double digits as the Hornets went on the road and picked up one of the biggest wins in ASU history with an 85-82 win at Virginia Tech, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“A great team victory for our team at Alabama State,” Head Coach Lewis Jackson said. “I thought our guys came out and stuck with the game plan and just competed every possession.”
“We tried to get the bigs involved in ball screens, get in the lane and kick and find guys. Just a great team victory we knew we had to do a great job on the glass and I don’t know exactly how it turned out, but we really worked and played hard, made some free throws down the stretch and was able to hang on.”
The Hornets led early (5-0) but trailed for most of the game as there were only two lead changes. The final came on a Bobby Brown field goal with six minutes left to give ASU a 67-65 lead, and the Hornets never trailed again.
A basket by Glenn Hollaway with 4:20 left in the game gave the Hornets their largest lead at 74-66. That basket was the final score on an 11-0 ASU run. From there the Hornets hung on for the three-point win by hitting five of seven free throws over the final minute of action.
Brown finished the game with 14 points while two newcomers Torloft Thomas and Corvon Butler finished with 13 and 10 points.
Waters added a team-high six rebounds and a game-high seven assists to go with his points. Steve Rogers, Butler and Hollaway helped with the rebounding numbers finishing with five each.
ASU did a good job of taking care of the basketball only committing eight turnovers against the taller Hokies. They had four blocked shots and four steals with Waters’ two a game-high.
The Hornets shot 42 percent from the field, but hit 50 percent (17-34) of their second half field goals. ASU hit nine of their 28 three point attempts for 32 percent. The Hornets were out shot two-to-one at the free throw line, but did knock down 16 of their 21 attempts for 76 percent.
With the host team working their size advantage, the Hokies continued to get the ball inside to their post players where the finished the game out scoring ASU 46-28 in the post. It also helped them shoot a strong 47 percent for the game, including 54 in the second half.
Virginia Tech also out rebounded ASU, but not by as many as one would think, 41-36 was the final tally. The home team held a 40-21 advantage in free throws, but only hit 25 of those for 63 percent.
Zach LeDay was the big man that was able to take advantage in the post. He finished with a game-high 26 points and even had a game-high 15 rebounds.
Jackson talked about the size disadvantage the Hornets faced. “We knew they were bigger, their guards were big. We were starting three guys six-two or under and we were starting a 6-5 guy at forward. We just wanted to keep the floor open and try to attack their big wing guys, get in the lane and get kick outs. We were fortunate enough to do some of that a little bit and they missed a couple of shots there late and got the rebound. We were able to execute down the stretch and hit some free throws. We knew the size would be a big problem but the guys fought hard.”
ASU trailed at halftime 42-37 as the taller and more physical Hokies took advantage of their size on the inside and were able to score 22 of their points in the paint and hit 12 of their 18 free throws.
The Hornets struggled shooting the ball connecting on only 35 percent of their shots, but were able to hit five three point field goals to stay close. Waters scored 10 in the opening half to lead ASU.
“This was just a great win mainly because we lost so many guys out of our eight-man rotation last season,” Jackson said. “The way they played tonight just shows the things we can accomplish if we work hard each and every day in practice and try to continue to get better.”