No. 13 Virginia Tech beat Washington 73-61 in the Hoophall Boardwalk Classic on Saturday night in Atlantic City. The Hokies improved to 9-1 overall with the win, while the Huskies dropped to 7-4.
Despite an early run from Washington in the second half, this was a game that was controlled by Virginia Tech. There were no ties or lead changes throughout 40 minutes of basketball, and though the Huskies did cut Tech’s lead to single digits a few times in the second half, it was the Hokies who dominated when it mattered.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker was the MVP of the Charleston Classic back in November, and he shined on a neutral site yet again on Saturday. He finished with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and he also had three rebounds, three assists and two steals. He was one of four Hokies in double figures. Ahmed Hill, Justin Robinson and Kerry Blackshear had 10 points each.
The Hokies were able to win this game with relative ease despite an off night from star point guard Justin Robinson. He scored his 10 points on just 3-of-11 shooting, including a 1-of-6 mark from three-point range. Kerry Blackshear was also just 2-of-9 from the field against a tough Washington zone defense.
However, it was Virginia Tech’s defense that stole the show. The Hokies forced 15 Washington turnovers, and the Huskies shot just 36.7% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range. Tech came into the game No. 8 nationally in defensive efficiency and remained in that spot after Saturday night’s win. However, they moved up from No. 34 to No. 26 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which shows how effective they were against the Huskies.
Though Tech surrendered 17 offensive rebounds to Washington, they were not dominated on the glass, losing the battle just 40-38. In fact, they outscored Washington 14-11 in second chance points. The Hokies also had seven steals, and they rank No. 27 nationally in steals per game.
Virginia Tech led the Huskies by as many 21 with 5:09 remaining in the first half when Justin Robinson hit his one and only three-pointer of the game to make the score 35-14. The Hokies went on to take a 39-21 lead into the halftime intermission.
To Washington’s credit, they fought back in the second half, cutting the lead to as little as seven points (53-46) with 9:03 left in the game. The Huskies made their first six shot attempts of the half, which helped them get back into the game. Still, Tech’s lead was too big, and the Hokies eventually settled down and closed out the game well in the final minutes, eventually pushing their lead back to as many as 14 points.
Washington entered the game ranked No. 47 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, which replaced the RPI in the offseason. As it stands, the Hokies have two Quadrant One wins for the NCAA Tournament Committee to consider when seeding Tech in March. They had no Quadrant One wins in the non-conference portion of their schedule last season.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they host North Carolina A&T. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game can be seen online on ACC Network Extra.