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Dowdell catches fire, dents FSU's tourney hopes

With Zabian Dowdell leading the way, Virginia Tech found its stride in the second half Saturday night and ran right past Florida State.

Dowdell, a junior guard, scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half as the Hokies pulled away midway through the half to beat the Seminoles 72-61, ending Tech's three-game losing streak.

"He had his legs. He had good focus," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said of Dowdell, who had five rebounds, five assists and four steals in just 31 minutes. "He made some plays on pullups we had seen before and it was nice to see again."

The Hokies (14-13, 4-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) had four players in double figures and shot 61.5 percent in the second half.

Despite a head cold, Jamon Gordon added 15 points for the Hokies, including seven straight when Virginia Tech went ahead to stay. Coleman Collins scored 13 and Deron Washington had 12 points and nine rebounds.

"I thought they did a very good job of being patient on offense, moving the ball around and playing the shot clock," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said.

Florida State (17-8, 7-7), which had won four of its past five and seven in a row against the Hokies, saw its hopes for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament damaged. The Seminoles have two games left - at home against No. 1 Duke and at Miami.

Alexander Johnson led the Seminoles with 15 points and Al Thornton added 13.

"You've just got to give Virginia Tech credit. They were more energized or something," Thornton said.

The score was tied at 27 at halftime and four times early in the second half.

But Gordon gave the Hokies the lead for good at 41-40 with a layup and scored Virginia Tech's next five points to give it a 46-42 lead with 12:52 left. Florida State got within 53-51 with 7:08 left, but the Hokies used a 7-0 run to rebuild their margin.

Dowdell had the last four in the burst on a layup and jumper, and scored 13 in the final 9:24, drawing roars from the crowd of 9,847 at Cassell Coliseum.

"I just wanted to be aggressive, just try to make something happen out there," Dowdell said.

FSU got as close as 60-56 with 3:58 to play, but the Hokies quickly responded with five points in a row and led by at least seven the rest of the way.

Virginia Tech made 11-of-14 free throws in the second half.