Virginia Tech Basketball: Hokies Fight Past Notre Dame, Advance To Acc Semifinals

BY MARK BERMANTHE ROANOKE TIMES

NEW YORK — For the first time in 11 years, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team has made the ACC semifinals.

The seventh-seeded Hokies boosted their NCAA tournament resume with an 87-80 win over second-seeded Notre Dame in the ACC quarterfinals Thursday night at the Barclays Center.

The Hokies (21-12) won for the 11th time in their last 13 games, including a second-round overtime win over Clemson on Wednesday.

Notre Dame (22-10) lost to Tech for the fourth straight time, including a 79-73 defeat in Blacksburg on Jan. 15.

Tech scored the first seven points of Thursday’s game and led the rest of the way.

The Hokies will face North Carolina or Virginia in the semifinals at 9:30 p.m. Friday. UNC played UVa late Thursday night.

Tech made the ACC semifinals for the first time since Seth Greenberg’s Hokies did so in 2011. That year, the sixth-seeded Hokies beat Georgia Tech and Florida State before bowing to Duke in the semis.

This will be the fourth ACC semifinal appearance in Tech’s history. Greenberg’s Hokies also made the semis in 2007 and 2008.

Thursday’s win not only kept Tech on the NCAA tournament bubble but also gave Tech another quality victory for its resume.

The Hokies entered Thursday ranked No. 36 in the NCAA’s NET rankings. They won at Miami two weekends ago for their lone Quad 1 win of the regular season (a home win over a team currently ranked in the top 30 in the NET, a neutral-court win over a team currently ranked in the top 50, or a road win over a team currently ranked in the top 75).

Notre Dame entered Thursday ranked No. 50 in the NET, so Thursday’s neutral-court win over the Fighting Irish gave Tech its second Quad 1 win of the season. The Hokies just have to hope that Notre Dame remains in the top 50 despite Thursday’s outcome.

Thursday’s win also means Tech now has three wins over teams that are likely to make the NCAAs (one against Miami and two against Notre Dame).

A win in Friday’s semifinals would help Tech’s at-large case even more.

Keve Aluma scored 20 points for the Hokies, while Storm Murphy scored 16 points.

Freshman backup point guard Sean Pedulla, who did not score a point in the January win over Notre Dame, had 13 points Thursday. He scored 11 points in the first half.

Nahiem Alleyne tallied 12 points apiece for Tech. Justyn Mutts had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

In Tech’s regular-season win over Notre Dame, the Hokies shot 59.2% from the field.

The Hokies also shined offensively Thursday. Tech shot 57.4% from the field in the rematch.

The Hokies led 42-31 at halftime. They shot 50% from the field in the first half. They were 4 of 10 from 3-point range. Tech scored 14 points off Notre Dame’s 10 turnovers in the first half.

On Wednesday. the Hokies also led by 11 points at halftime. But Clemson rallied to force overtime.

Tech did not blow its halftime lead Thursday, though.

Down 69-59 with 6:41 left, Notre Dame cut the lead to 69-63 with 5:36 left. But Aluma answered with a basket.

Nate Laszewski made a basket and free throw to cut the lead to 71-66. But Alleyne answered with a jumper.

Dane Goodwin scored to cut the lead to 73-68. But Murphy answered with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 79-68 cushion with 1:47 to go.

Cormac Ryan (20 points) buried a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 79-71. After Murphy missed the front end of a one-and-one, Ryan made two free throws to trim the lead to 79-73 with 1:04 left.

After Pedulla missd the front end of a one-and one, Prentiss Hubb (23 points) scored to cut the lead to 79-75 with 48.7 seconds left.

Pedulla made two free throws to extend the lead to 81-75. Hunter Cattoor made two more free throws for an 83-75 lead.

Hubb scored to cut the lead to 83-77 with 28.6 seconds left, but Murphy made two free throws for an 85-77 lead.

Hubb sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 85-80 with 21.1 seconds to go. Murphy made two free throws for an 87-80 lead.

Notre Dame shot 52.9% from the field .

Tech jumped to a 14-4 lead with 15:43 left in the first half. Tech was 5 of 6 from the field at that point. Notre Dame had four turnovers at that point.

The lead grew to 24-12 with 12:43 left in the half. Tech was shooting 63.6% from the field at that point. Tech was 3 of 4 from 3-point range and 7 of 7 from the free-throw line at that point.

Tech led 29-14 with 9:42 left in the half. The Hokies were shooting 64.3% from the field at that point.

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