November 19, 2014
Van Zegeren's big night lifts Hokies past Liberty
By Jimmy Robertson
Liberty (2-1) 283563
Virginia Tech (2-0) 314273
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 5,586
  • High Points: 17 - Joey van Zegeren
  • High Rebounds: 10 - Joey van Zegeren

BLACKSBURG – Joey van Zegeren scored a game-high 17 points, and Virginia Tech used efficient offense in the second half to pull away to a 73-63 non-conference victory over Liberty at Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night.

Van Zegeren was one of four players in double figures for the Hokies (2-0), who won despite committing 19 turnovers and making just 16-of-28 from the free-throw line. Adam Smith and Devin Wilson scored 13 points each, while Justin Bibbs finished with 10 points.

Van Zegeren connected on 7-of-9 from the floor, leading the way on an evening in which the Hokies shot 61 percent (25-of-41). He also grabbed 10 rebounds for his career double-double.

“My teammates went to the basket and got good attempts. That’s the reason I got a few offensive rebounds,” van Zegeren said. “Devin [Wilson] found me several times. It was just playing our own game and playing in the flow that we like to play.”

The Hokies only trailed once in the game. Liberty’s James Johnson opened the scoring with a layup just 25 seconds into the game. But the Hokies struggled to put the Flames away.

A 3-pointer by Bibbs with 38 seconds left in the first half enabled the Hokies to take a 31-28 lead at halftime. Tech then hit four of its first six shots to start the second half, taking a 40-32 lead on a 3-pointer by Smith with 17:25 remaining.

Midway through the second half, Tech scored on eight of nine possessions and took a 59-45 lead on two free throws by Wilson with 9:10 left – the Hokies’ biggest lead of the game.

“Our offensive efficiency through two games has been pretty good,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “Some of that is skewed because there isn’t enough data, but part of the reason that it’s skewed is because in the first game we didn’t turn it over [six turnovers against Maryland-Eastern Shore]. Tonight, we kicked it all over the gym. I’d say we’re probably somewhere in between.”

“We’re shooting the ball really well, but a lot of the shots we’re are shooting are shots we shoot in practice, so we want to continue shooting practice shots. Our practice shots are a byproduct of our paint touches.”

Despite being smaller, the Hokies out-scored Liberty 36-28 in the paint.

The Flames (2-1) cut the lead to 65-59 on a jumper by James Johnson with 4:04 left. But coming out of a timeout, Virginia Tech got a short jumper from Smith with 3:33 to go, and Liberty didn’t come closer than seven points the rest of the way.

The Flames only made one more shot the rest of the game – a basket by David Andoh with 28 seconds left. Liberty shot the ball respectably for the game (24-of-56) and out-rebounded the smaller Hokies (31-26), but the Flames really hurt themselves with 21 turnovers. Virginia Tech scored 27 points off Liberty turnovers.

“I was hoping we could tighten things a little more to see what would happen,” Liberty coach Dale Layer said. “We were about a possession short there of making it real interesting with three or four minutes left.”

Tomasz Gielo led Liberty with 13 points.

Wilson finished with nine assists for the Hokies. Bibbs became the first Virginia Tech freshman to score in double figures in his first two games since Robert Brown in 2011.

The Hokies continue non-conference action this Saturday when they take on Appalachian State at Cassell Coliseum. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.

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