Virginia Tech fell to Northern Iowa 73-54 in the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday night. The Hokies dropped to 2-2 with the loss, while the Panthers improved to 5-0.
Northern Iowa returned five starters and 10 lettermen, and also added UVA transfer Paul Jesperson since last season. As a result, they outclassed the freshman-laden Hokies. Tech was within seven points and 40-33 early in the second half, but struggled on both ends of the court the rest of the way and lost by 19.
Free throw shooting was the biggest disparity. Tech only took eight trips to the line, making three shots. Meanwhile, Northern Iowa was 18-of-20 from the charity stripe. Despite Joey van Zegeren’s 15 points and six rebounds, the Hokies couldn’t get the ball into the paint enough against the tough Panther defense.
No other Hokie scored in double figures. Freshman wing Ahmed Hill had nine points and hit two three-pointers out of three attempts. Devin Wilson struggled to get penetration, and had no points while missing both of his shot attempts.
Tech will face either Miami (OH) or Northwestern on Wednesday. Tip-off will be at 7pm, and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.