basketball Edit

Virginia Tech's Grant Basile reminds Notre Dame why it wanted him

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Mike Brey did his best to coax a one-year commitment from grad transfer Grant Basile.

That miss stung more than any other on an entertaining Saturday afternoon in Purcell Pavilion.

“I did a great job on that (recruiting) front,” Brey said sarcastically after the 6-foot-9, 235-pound grad student exploded for 28 second-half points and 33 in all — 17 over his average — to lead Virginia Tech past Notre Dame, 93-87.

Basile’s dominance overshadowed a shooting show by Notre Dame’s 6-10 grad student Nate Laszewski, who had 20 points by halftime and finished with a career-high 33 points on 12-of-17 field goals, including 6-for-9 from the 3-point line.


Forward Grant Basile led Virginia Tech with 33 points in a 93-87 victory over Notre Dame.
Forward Grant Basile led Virginia Tech with 33 points in a 93-87 victory over Notre Dame. (AP Photo/Michael Caterina)

It’s been that kind of frustrating season for the Irish (10-15, 2-12 ACC). One area shines and leaks spring up elsewhere.

They had their best offensive performance since scoring 88 in a Nov. 13 non-conference win over Wright State — where, by the way, Basile earned his undergrad degree — and by far their worst defensive effort of the season. Every miss on the offensive end was magnified by the ease with which Virginia Tech scored.

The Hokies are a solid offensive team, entering the contest second in the ACC in field goal percentage at 47.1%, but against the Irish they were at 57.1% from the field — without one fast-break point — and 42.9% from the 3-point line (35.2% coming into the game).

And they made the Irish pay for fouls, going 20-for-25 at the free throw line to Notre Dame’s 6-for-7.

“They're really gifted,” said Brey. “They got off to a very tough start (this season), but I think they're in gear now.”

It was the Hokies’ first road win in eight tries, and they improved to 15-10, 5-9 in the ACC, the other four wins coming against Virginia, Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse.

There were five lead changes and five ties, the last coming at the 11:43 mark of the second half at 59-all, before Basile’s work in the lane started to take its toll.

He had a three-point play with 9:21 to go and another less than a minute later. His baby hook at the 6:58 mark was the first of his five straight buckets in the lane and the Hokies led 87-77 with 2:07 to go.

Notre Dame still had some life left in its offense that was nearly equally as efficient at 54.8% from the field and 43.3% from the 3-point line.

A sprinting, wide-open dunk by freshman Ven-Allen Lubin (11 points, 5-for-8 from the field) jolted a crowd of 6,632 to life and pulled the Irish to within 87-81 with 1:20 to go. On Tech’s next possession it looked like the Irish finally had back-to-back stops. But with the shot-clock winding down, the Hokies’ MJ Collins fired off a 3-point attempt from the corner.

Notre Dame’s Cormac Ryan raced to cover him and caught Collins’ hand on the follow-through and was whistled for a foul.

Collins hit all three foul shots to get the lead back to 90-81 with 54.6 to go.


Notre Dame had enough offense, but not enough time.

Three-point plays by Dane Goodwin (43.7 seconds left) and JJ Starling (15.1 seconds) reduced the margin to 91-87, but Basile, fittingly, put it away with two free throws with 14 seconds to go.

An off-balance 3-point shot from Laszewski was off the mark as the final seconds ticked away and the Hokies earned their fifth straight win over the Irish.

Ryan, who came in averaging 11.6 points, had a hot hand most of the day and finished with 17 points, including a couple of his five threes (9 attempts) well beyond the line.

But it was Laszewski’s day from the start. He was 7-for-10 in the first half — 4-of-5 from the 3-point line — to keep the Irish in the hunt, trailing only 43-40 at the break.

His work helped offset the scoring of 6-7 Justyn Mutts, Basile’s running mate in the lane, who had nine at half and 19 for the day to help the Hokies to a 42-32 edge in the paint.

Though the season turned sour long ago, Laszewski has been steady. He came in averaging 14.2 points and shooting at a 52.8% clip, including 40.7% from the 3-point line as well as a team-high 86.7% from the free throw line. He is averaging a team-best 7.0 rebounds and hauled in a team-high eight Saturday.

Brey believes it’s all making his pro stock rise.

“I will tell him to not dwell on the loss and keep playing his backside off because he's now playing for some salary,” Brey said. “He’s being scouted and all that stuff, so God bless him. Go do it.

“No one's been more disappointed at not winning than him. But come on man, business is business. Keep playing your backside off, and if we get a win with it, great. If not, keep building your résumé and make some money next year.”


Brey will be making his final trip to Duke as Notre Dame’s head coach on Tuesday (7 p.m. EST on ESPN). It’s where his college coaching career began as an assistant to the legendary Mike Krzyzewski.

“You know, a lot of memories going back there,” Brey said. “I'm going to touch base on game day with Coach K. I haven't really been able to talk to him since I made the announcement I was stepping down. But I'd love to pick his brain on advice, you know, and there'll be a lot of memories in that.

“That building (Cameron Indoor Stadium) — I'm glad our guys get to compete in there. It's a great opportunity, and it's a great experience. We've had some success in the past. But man, we're gonna have to score. I hope we can put 80-something up on the board, because they can score.

“Mike (Krzyzewski) and I will talk — we're gonna probably be pickleball teammates in the 60-and-over group …

“That decision for Mike to hire me as a high school coach 28 years ago, jump-started it. It opened up everything for me.”

And even though Krzyzewski is retired, wins in Cameron still mean a lot.

“If we could play well and steal a win Tuesday, it would heal a lot of wounds.”

Box score: Virginia Tech 93, Notre Dame 87


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