There was suspense from the opening tip to the waning moments, when a short hook from Erik Wilson with 30 seconds left gave Virginia Tech a 91-89 nonconference college basketball victory over James Madison before 7,163 at Cassell Coliseum yesterday in Blacksburg, Va.

Virginia Tech (2-0) opened the second half with six straight points to take a 54-46 lead before Chancellor Nichols scored eight straight for James Madison (1-1), tying the game at 54 with 15:33 left.

A three-pointer by Kenny Brooks had given the Dukes an 89-87 lead with 1:43 to go.

Nichols, a junior transfer from Mississippi State, led the Dukes with 28 points. Steve Hood had 16. Antony Moses led a balanced Virginia Tech offense with 19 points, followed by 18 from John Rivers, 16 from Rod Wheeler and 14 from Wilson.

The Hokies held the lead until a layup by Nichols with 5:33 remaining gave the Dukes a 76-75 edge.

Virginia Tech emerged from a first half that included seven lead changes and 22 personal fouls with a 47-46 edge. Wheeler's three-point play with 8:26 left had given the Hokies a 29-27 advantage, a lead they held until intermission.

Nichols scored 12 of James Madison's first 22 points, including a three-pointer that gave the Dukes their first lead, 18-15, with 13:06 left.

Virginia Tech, behind Wheeler's 12 first-half points, recovered and led by five on three occasions -- the last at 43-38 with 3:28 to go.