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Vassallo steps up as Hokies get first ACC win of season

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- A.D. Vassallo scored a career-high 29
points as Virginia Tech beat Wake Forest 76-70 Saturday for its
first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season.

Jamon Gordon added 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Hokies
(11-9, 1-6), who overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to
snap a five-game losing streak.

Zabian Dowdell had 11 points and Wynton Witherspoon scored 10
for the Hokies. Vassallo, who averaged 4.2 points per game, also
pulled down 10 rebounds.

Vassallo started in place of Deron Washington, who was suspended
for Saturday's game after he drove his foot into the face of a Duke
player Thursday when both were laying on the floor.

Washington, third in scoring for the Hokies at 10.9 points per
game, was ejected from Thursday's 80-67 loss to the No. 2 Blue
Devils for a flagrant foul.

Trent Strickland scored 23 points for the Demon Deacons (12-8,
1-6), who fell into a tie with the Hokies for last place in the
league standings.

Michael Drum had 17 points, Eric Williams scored 12 and Harvey
Hale posted 10 for Wake Forest, which played without leading scorer
Justin Gray, who sat out after coming down with a stomach virus
Saturday morning, according to a school spokesman.

It was the first game that Gray -- the ACC's second-leading
scorer at 19.6 points -- had missed since his freshman season with
the Demon Deacons, when he was out eight games with a broken jaw.

Despite Gray's absence, Wake Forest led 38-35 at the half, then
opened the second half with a 9-point run, going up 47-35 with
16:53 left on Drum's fifth 3-pointer of the game.

Wake Forest led by 11 points when Vassallo and Gordon combined
for 11 points during a 13-0 run that put the Hokies up 57-56 with
8:22 left, the team's first lead since the opening minutes of the
first half.

The teams swapped the lead five times and tied the score once
before Gordon stripped Strickland of the ball, feeding Witherspoon
for a fast-break layup that put the Hokies up 67-65 with 4:04
remaining.

The Demon Deacons stayed within three points until the final 26
seconds, as Virginia Tech closed out the game by hitting 5-of-6
from the line.