BLACKSBURG – Erick Green tied his career high with 25 points to lift the Hokies past Rhode Island 69-50 in a nonconference game played Monday night at Cassell Coliseum.
With the win, the Hokies moved to 2-0 overall on the season. Rhode Island fell to 0-2.
Green scored 17 of his 25 in the first half, as Tech jumped out to a 13-0 lead and never trailed. The Rams missed their first seven shots from the floor and didn’t score in the first 5:08 of the game.
Rhode Island cut the lead to 28-24 on a basket by Xavier Munford with 1:59 left in the first half. But the Hokies scored the last eight points of the half – six of those coming on two Green 3-pointers – to take a 36-24 lead at halftime.
Rhode Island got no closer than 11 the rest of the game. The Rams had a chance to cut the lead to nine with 10:02 remaining, but Nikola Malesevic missed a layup, and Green responded for the Hokies by making two free throws with 9:46 left to push the lead back to 13.
Tech led by as many as 21 in the second half.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, but the goal has been, from day 1, to get better every day, and I thought we took a step forward from Saturday night [against East Tennessee State],” first-year Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “I’ve seen a lot from this team.
“I’m having fun, just like the players. That’s been a thing we’ve talked about all year. We’re going to work hard as a staff and as a team, and we’re going to play hard as a team. We’re going to have fun … I’m just happy the guys are doing the things we want them to do. It’s all about those guys out there on the floor.”
Malesevic’s missed layup was part of a terrible shooting night for the Rams, who made just 33.9 percent from the floor (20 of 59). Even worse, they made just 1 of 21 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“In the first half, we came out strong, but we always have this problem where we let teams come back in the game,” Green said. “On the defensive end, we still had a lot of mistakes, and rebounding, I think they out-rebounded us on the offensive end (13-10).
“We did a good job, but I want to do a great job. When we play in the ACC, we’ve got to be able to be great to beat those guys. I’m proud of our defense, but I want to be great on defense.”
Green, in particular, was great on offense. He hit 8 of 15 from the floor, including four 3-pointers. He made 5 of 8 from the free-throw line, and he also dished out four assists.
As a team, the Hokies shot 45.6 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Rams 42-37 after getting out-rebounded by East Tennessee State in the season opener on Saturday.
The Hokies continue nonconference action on Thursday night with a game against VMI at Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
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