|Vassallo scored 16 points to lead Virginia Tech to 54-48 victory over St. John's|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 29 December 2007 13:16|
The Hokies (8-5) were making their first appearance in the tournament, but they improved their record at Madison Square Garden to 11-2.
Anthony Mason Jr. had 12 points to lead the Red Storm (6-5), who were looking for their 15th Festival title in their 43rd appearance in the tournament that started in 1952.
The game was a matchup of young teams struggling offensively and that kept up Saturday.
Both teams had 20 turnovers and the Hokies finished 18-for-49 from the field (36.7 percent), while the Red Storm were 15-for-53 (28.3 percent).
Virginia Tech, which beat Hofstra 84-59 in the opening round, started the second half with an 11-2 run that gave it a 32-24 lead with 11:40 to play.
St. John's did not make a field goal in the second half for 10:47. But Mason's reverse layup on an inbounds play started an 8-2 run that got the Red Storm within two with 7:35 left.
Vassallo, who was selected tournament MVP, then scored on a hook shot and a move down low to give the Hokies a 38-32 lead with 6:48 to play.
Larry Wright's 3-pointer with 33 seconds left got the Red Storm within three, but Virginia Tech went 6-for-8 from the free-throw line the rest of the way to offset a 3 by Eugene Lawrence and hold on for the win.
St. John's, which beat Marist 62-59 in the first round, was 5-for-26 from the field in the second half (19.2 percent).
Marist beat Hofstra 73-67 in the third-place game.