Virginia Tech tried to beat us. The officials tried to beat us. We tried to beat ourselves. But it didn’t work. The Hoyas put an end to the longest losing streak since 1975 on Feb. 15 by beating the Hokies of Virginia Tech, 85-73.

For once, the cards were stacked in our favor. The Hokies were without junior guard/forward Carlos Dixon who broke a bone in his left foot and is out indefinitely. Dixon, when healthy, is a confusing presence for the opposition, scoring his 14.5 points per game from all over the court. Virginia Tech’s crowd was also absent due to the inclement weather. Tech’s rowdy fans were a big influence in the team’s big win over Connecticut earlier this season.

The Hoyas’ biggest advantage was junior guard Gerald Riley. Riley dropped a career-high 31 points against the Hokies. The junior was lights-out from beyond the arc, draining 6-of-7, one short of a Hoya record, and 10-of-20 overall.

The consistent elements of the Hoya attack were also to the team’s advantage. Junior forward Mike Sweetney fought off foul trouble to score 25 points and pull down a team-leading eight rebounds. The Montrose Christian duo, sophomore guards Tony Bethel and Drew Hall, combined for 15 points and 10 assists to aid the cause. Head coach Craig Esherick said that he was pleased with the win and the end of the losing streak.

“Rewarding doesn’t come close to describing what I’m feeling,” Coach Craig Esherick said. “I didn’t think we’d ever win a road game again the way we were playing. And when you start to lose a couple of home games, you start to wonder what the heck is going on.”

Esherick didn’t begin the game in that mood, however. At the first stoppage of play the Hoyas were down by four and in need of a boost. Facing adversity, Georgetown stepped up its play. Sweetney went to the bench after being charged with his second foul and the Hoyas chose that time to strike back. Georgetown took a 20-10 lead behind a 15-3 run largely provided by Riley’s excellent shooting.

As is the case with the majority of college basketball games, and certainly with Hoya games, the Virginia Tech contest was a game of scoring streaks. The Hokies soon struck back with a 13-2 spurt to go up by a point. Georgetown made a very timely move, however, and struck back in the final six minutes of the half. After outscoring Virginia Tech by 10 in that span, the Hoyas had a 41-32 advantage at the break.

Although Sweetney spent much of the first 20 minutes on the bench, Georgetown had no cause for concern. Riley alleviated the Hoyas’ fears with 16 first-half points and a perfect performance from the three-point line.

The majority of the final 20 minutes went the Hoyas’ way. Georgetown mounted a 17-point lead at one point and the Hokies briefly came within 8 points of the Hoyas, but that was all they could muster in their own defense.

The Hoyas took a 14-point lead on Mike Sweetney’s inside play. Sweetney made a number of strong post moves and surprised the small but hostile crowd with an athletic reverse lay-up.

Virginia Tech struck back to make it close in the closing minutes with a two-pronged attack. Senior center Terry Taylor and senior guard Eric Branham combined for 32 points in the game and made the end exciting. The difference stood at eight again with 1:47 left. Given the team’s history this season, things didn’t look good.

The Hokies then resorted to the traditional strategy of fouling in the closing minutes to get the score close. The Hoyas, however, were able to make 90.5 percent of their free throws to Tech’s 68.4 percent, proving this strategy ineffective. Georgetown continued to make shots down the stretch and built the lead to an insurmountable level. For a team that has spent much of this season convincing fans that no lead is insurmountable, this game gave Hoya fans much reason to cheer.

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