Virginia Tech fell to Notre Dame 64-56 in South Bend in their regular season finale on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies finished the regular season 16-15 overall and 7-13 in the ACC, while the Fighting Irish went 19-12 and 10-10.
Similar to the home matchup with UVA this season, Tech got off to a bad start offensively and couldn’t quite make up for it. After taking a 7-6 lead on the back of two Nahiem Alleyne free throws with 14:54 remaining in the first half, the Hokies went ice cold. They didn’t score again until the 5:03 mark of the first half. In that cold stretch they missed 13 shots in a row, as well as a pair of free throws.
“I think Mike’s [Brey] bunch did some things that disrupted us and had us back on our heels a little bit,” Mike Young said. “Certainly, in the first 10 minutes, we took some shots that were head-scratchers because we get those shots down. But we didn’t today, and that put a lot of pressure on our defense.”
To the Hokies’ credit they kept playing good defense, but Notre Dame still held a 19-7 lead before back-to-back three-pointers by PJ Horne and Hunter Cattoor finally got the lid off the basket and trimmed the Irish lead to 19-13 with 4:23 left in the half. Still, Tech managed just four more points the rest of the half, two of which came on a last-second PJ Horne jumper of a good play drawn up during a timeout by Mike Young.
Like the UVA game, the Hokies started hot in the second half and cut the lead to five points, 33-28, on a layup by Alleyne with 16:36 left in the game. However, unlike the UVA game, Tech couldn’t sustain their run, and that five-point deficit was as close as they would come in the second half. They forced 16 Notre Dame turnovers, an impressive number considering the Irish came into the game ranked No. 3 nationally in turnover rate, but that long cold stretch in the first half doomed the visitors to defeat.
“I thought we fought like crazy in the first half to limit Notre Dame to 33 percent from the field, and they had nine turnovers,” Young said. “They never turn the ball over. We had great numbers there, but unfortunately we couldn’t make one on our end either.”
PJ Horne led the Hokies with 14 points, and he also had seven rebounds. Hunter Cattoor came off the bench to score 12 points, pull down four rebounds and grab three steals. Tyrece Radford had eight points and seven rebounds, while Alleyne added nine points. Landers Nolley was just 3-of-12 from the field and finished with seven points. Jalen Cone had an uncharacteristic poor shooting day, going 0-of-8 from the field and 0-of-7 from the outside. He did not score.
As a result of Miami’s victory over Syracuse on Saturday, the Hokies will be the No. 11 seed in the ACC Tournament.
“It’s one of the great postseason conference tournaments, the best. To take this bunch in there with that experience and that environment in Greensboro Coliseum will be a lot of fun. We’ll certainly need to play better than we did in here today. But as we all know, it’s a new season and you got a chance to fight again and a chance to get better with a lot on the line as well.”