Virginia Tech's hot shooting completes comeback win over Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s shooting went cold at exactly the wrong time.
The Irish men’s basketball team shot better than 50% from the field into the early second half but couldn’t manage a field goal in the final 2:47 as Virginia Tech completed a 79-73 comeback victory in Blacksburg, Va.
The Hokies (9-7, 1-4 ACC) trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half but finished their first conference victory of the season on a 6-0 run to end Notre Dame’s six-game winning streak.
Notre Dame (10-6, 4-2) couldn’t slow down Virginia Tech once it caught fire in the second half at Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies shot 16-of-23 (69.6%) from the field and 5-of-8 from 3 (62.5%) in the game’s final 20 minutes. Guard Naheim Alleyne (15 points), forward Justyn Mutts (14) and forward Keve Aluma (11) each scored double-digit points in the second half alone.
Mutts finished with a game-high 24 points for Virginia Tech. Alleyne added 22.
"I don't think we were as good defensively as we've been during those six straight (wins)," said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. "We gave up 78 points. They just shot the heck out of it on us.
"We were trying to take away the arc, but they made 10 of those. You try to hammer the post — I just don't think we were good enough defensively to win. We were good enough offensively all night really to win the game."
Graduate forward Paul Atkinson Jr. led the Irish with 19 points. Freshman guard Blake Wesley finished with 15 points despite shooting 4-of-12 from the field.
The Irish led from the 18:17 mark in the first half until Virginia Tech tied and took a 63-62 lead with a pair of technical foul free throws by Alleyne with 5:52 remaining. The sequence started when Aluma hit a turnaround jumper and Notre Dame senior forward Nate Laszewski was whistled for a foul.
Brey was given a technical foul for his displeasure with the initial call. Aluma finished what became a five-point possession with a free throw to extend the lead to 64-62. The Irish later fell behind by six points when Alleyne buried a 3 with 3:45 left.
Notre Dame fought its way back to a tie twice, but senior guard Cormac Ryan missed a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left and the Irish trailing by two. When guard Storm Murphy hit a 3 with 20 seconds left to extend the lead to 78-73, the Irish were all but buried.
The Irish will return to action Monday at Howard (6-7) in Washington, D.C. (2:30 p.m. on FOX).
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