Virginia Tech rode a great performance by freshman Brian Chase, who hit 5 of 7 three-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Hokies to victory in Keaney Gym in Kingston, Rhode Island.
For the first time in weeks, Tech coach Ricky Stokes started Brendan Dunlop at point guard and moved Chase over to shooting guard, which freed him up to bomb away from the three-point line. Chase repeatedly made big plays and big shots to push the Hokies out to leads, and with Rolan Roberts chipping in 17 points on 7-9 shooting, Tech stayed ahead of Rhode Island almost the entire game.
The game stayed close most of the way. The Hokies held leads of 23-15, 35-26, and 44-35, but every time Tech threatened to pull ahead by ten, Rhode Island would close the gap to 2 or 3 points.
One key sequence for Tech occurred when the Rams closed the gap to 44-42 midway through the second half. Chase hit a three-pointer to put the Hokies up 47-42, and then stole the ball and threw a behind the back pass to Rolan Roberts on a fast break. Roberts was fouled and hit two free throws to stretch the lead to 49-42. On Tech's next possession, Chase broke away from the pack and took a long inbounds pass in for a layup to put the Hokies up by nine points, 51-42.
Rhode Island never seriously threatened again and hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for the deceptively close final margin of four points.
In addition to his game-high 23 points, Chase had 6 rebounds, 3 of which were offensive. He was second on the Tech team in rebounding, with Dennis Mims leading Tech with 15 boards.
In addition to Chase's 23 and Roberts' 17, Dunlop had 11 (with 7 assists) and Mims had 10. Andre Ray and Russ Wheeler each had 2 points to close out the scoring for Tech.
In other key stats, Tech shot 49% (25-52) and outrebounded Rhode Island 40-32. Rhode Island was able to stay close to Tech because the Hokies had an uncharacteristic 22 turnovers to 14 by the Rams.
Tech is 12-12 overall, 5-6 in the Atlantic 10. Tech's next game is Thursday at George Washington. Game time is 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on A-10 TV.