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December 21, 2008

Red Storm Falls to VTech

QUEENS, N.Y. - A.D. Vassallo scored 24 points and Malcolm Delaney added 22 as Virginia Tech beat St. John's 81-67 on Sunday to win the Aéropostale Holiday Festival for the second-straight year.

The Hokies (8-4) topped the Red Storm in the final at Madison Square Garden, just as they did in 2007. St. John's (9-2) was trying for a record 15th title in its 43rd appearance in the event.

"I thought we competed, but when you are playing at that level it only takes a five or six minute span to change the game. We didn't execute a few times. They were able to open a three-point game and get a cushion. We didn't have enough stops to respond. Those are things we will learn from and get better," said St. John's coach Norm Roberts.

After a hotly-contested first period, Virginia Tech used a 10-0 run of offensive rebounds and 3-pointers to take control midway through the second half. Vassallo and Delaney each had a 3-pointer in the run that made it 57-45 with 13:50 to play. One of those 3s and the other two field goals in the spurt came after the Hokies grabbed an offensive rebound.

Jeff Allen and J.T. Thompson both had 10 rebounds for Virginia Tech, which finished with a 42-34 advantage on the boards.

Sophomore guard Paris Horne had 14 points for the Red Storm, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped. St. John's played both games in the tournament without third-leading scorer and rebounder Justin Burrell, who sustained hairline facial fractures in practice on Thursday.

Sophomore big man Sean Evans scored all 13 of his points in the second period after early foul trouble, and totaled eight boards. Classmate D.J. Kennedy netted 13 on 6-of-9 shooting with five assists and two blocked shots to join Evans on the Holiday Festival All-Tournament team. Redshirt-sophomore Rob Thomas, making his second-career start in as many days, scored 12 with nine boards (four offensive).

Delaney, who had 25 points in the 54-48 opening-round win over Columbia, was selected the MVP. St. John's beat Marist 65-44 in the first round.

The Red Storm takes on former BIG EAST and current ACC-foe Miami (Fla.) following the Christmas Holiday, returning to The Garden on Dec. 27 for a noon contest (ESPNU). BIG EAST play follows with a trip to Providence on New Year's Eve (SNY).




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