Virginia Tech Narrowly Avoids Late Scare In Charleston Classic vs. ODU

Virginia Tech and Mike Young narrowly avoided a scare on Thursday vs. Old Dominion. (Virginia Tech athletics)

In its first game in the Charleston Classic on Thursday, Virginia Tech was tested by Old Dominion in multiple ways. But despite a poor second half, the Hokies fended off a late run from the Monarchs in the 75-71 win.

“We have some guys that we rely on who are really good players that had not played very well, but they rose up and made big plays when we needed it most,” Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “Encouraged by that. We’ll get a lot out of that experience that maybe we wouldn’t have had we beaten them by 20-24, which it looked like where it was headed.”

In the first 20 minutes, Tech (4-0) was hot on both ends of the floor. It made 15 of its 31 field goal attempts (48.4%) and six 3-pointers. Hunter Cattoor and Grant Basile each scored eight points while Hokies had nine assists to three turnovers. Moreover, despite Cattoor picking up two quick fouls, the group was solid defensively, holding ODU (2-2) to 28.6% shooting.

Yet, the lead, which blossomed to 20 after the Hokies outscored the Monarchs 31-11 over a 12:25-span, shrank right before the break. Just when it seemed like they were going to deliver the knockout punch in TD Arena, Old Dominion responded.

With an 18-point lead, Young gave Sean Pedulla and Cattoor a breather around the two-minute mark, replacing them with MJ Collins and John Camden. But the five of Collins, Darius Maddox, Camden, Justyn Mutts and Mylyjael Poteat on the court (and Lynn Kidd, who subbed in) turned the ball over twice (both Mutts) and allowed six points. At intermission, Tech led 39-25.

“Big flip up 18 into half, had a chance to get Pedulla and Cattoor off the floor with two fouls,” Young said. “That’s a minus four flip on that instance, which hurt. We come out, we got the ball to start the second half and had a good possession, but not very good from our team. We’ve got to play a lot better.”

All of a sudden, ODU had life again. Jeff Jones & Co. proceeded to use their physicality, something Tech struggled to handle in spurts.

And the Hokies, who were efficient early, only scored on back-to-back possessions once in the first 14 minutes of the second period. ODU guard Chaunce Jenkins had his way, too, scoring 24 points (10-of-15), grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists. It didn’t really matter if Tech had a hand in his face – he had 16 second-half points and came up with some clutch baskets.

The Hokies struggled to handle ODU’s physicality. (Virginia Tech athletics)

“He’s a shifty guy,” Young said of Jenkins, a Newport News native. “Kind of like the kid from William & Mary [Anders Nelson], he gets a couple down and we’ve got to do a better job start to finish. I thought we did a really nice job on him and them in the first half, but he started feeling good and he touched us up in the second half.”

Before anyone knew it, the lead was six, 58-52, with 5:56 remaining. ODU outscored Tech 46-36 in the second half, played good defense and couldn’t seem to miss.

The Monarchs were dominant on the boards, too, which was expected – Young noted on Sunday night after the win over William & Mary that ODU made a living on the glass. But Tech was still outrebounded 46-32.

“Obviously, they’re a really physical team,” Basile, who recorded 15 points, said. “I thought we did a good job in the first half, kind of matching that physicality. In the second half, we obviously didn’t play very well, we let them back into the game. I think we just we just need to continue to bring it.”

Young made a smart decision to call timeout and rally his troops at that moment. Less than a minute later, it paid off. Old Dominion switched to a 1-3-1 zone, forcing Tech to adjust on the fly. However, Pedulla appeared to do so with ease, and he found Maddox in the corner for an open 3-pointer.

For the remainder of the game, the two sides traded buckets. Jenkins hit a three, Maddox nailed one of his own. Jenkins got a layup to fall, Pedulla knocked down a jumper. The Edmond, Okla. product finished with a team-high 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Hunter Cattoor and the Hokies had ODU in the first half, but they let the Monarchs back in the game. (Virginia Tech athletics)

It was within the last minute of the game that Tech was really tested, though. ODU cut the lead to four via two free throws with 34 seconds to play. Pedulla was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one. Mutts tapped the miss outside to Cattoor, who dished it to Pedulla, who was fouled with 29 seconds left. Pedulla missed the first free throw and made the second to extend Tech’s lead to 71-66.

After a missed ODU three-pointer, Poteat grabbed the rebound with 18 seconds to go, was fouled and hit two clutch shots from the charity stripe, his only points in the game. 13 seconds later, Cattoor sank two free throws to seal the victory.

“That rebound and two foul shots from Mylyjael was huge,” Young said. “Cattoor’s got to step up there up two and get those down and he did. I thought Pedulla made some good plays down the stretch, Maddox hits two threes against the 1-3-1 that kind of idled us a little bit that was big, and he got another huge one down.”

Between Poteat’s moment and Maddox and Pedulla combining for Tech’s last five baskets, things fell the right way for Virginia Tech down the stretch. But the Hokies played an awfully dangerous game, especially considering they were just 10-of-25 in the second half and lost the rebounding battle by 14.

If they afford that luxury to Penn State (4-0), Friday’s opponent in the Charleston Classic (12 p.m., ESPN2/U), the Nittany Lions will likely make them pay.

“We just can’t keep having the second half issues,” Basile said. “We could’ve put them away at the end of the first half. I think it was 18 with two minutes left. We’ve just got to put teams away so we don’t have to play in close games like that.”

Box Score: Link

Charleston Classic Info/Bracket: Link

19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Whether or not our performance contributed to their offensive rebounds, they are an Off Reb machine, averaging 16 per game with a total of 64 in four games.

  2. Exact type of game needed for this bunch. Got the win, learned a lot. Especially that they can lose to anyone if they don’t play games out completely, and improve on fundamentals (rebounding, boxing out, etc.)

    1. The game with Penn St is a good early test game to sharpen and hone the HOKIES. Need to play the full game with NO let down or lag. Pedulla and Hunter with early 2 fouls yesterday hurt yesterday. It also served as a lesson for the team.

      GO HOKIES and rain 3s on the Lions!!!

  3. Pedulla is such a HUGE upgrade at PG over Storm and Bede, it is not even close! I also Basile is an upgrade over Aluma, especially his on ball defense!

        1. Not even close to close – Aluma was really, really good, both ends of the court. We will miss him in tight games with really good talent. He was the MVP [no knock on Cattoor] of the ACC tourney and the most important factor in us winning the ACC tourney.

  4. How about the absolute fact that VT did not block out on the O boards. Pathetic job of using your body. ODU had stick back after stick back. How hard is that to teach? Get in front of the opponent!

  5. I can’t believe Mutts took a 5 second call on a critical in bounds play.They still had a timeout to burn.But if it comes down to that type of play again I still want the ball in Mutt’s hands.Just a big mental lapse I’m sure he won’t make again!A win is a win.4-0 is good in November,this is where you start to build your NCAA Tourney chances!!Go Hokies!!

    1. Not to be snarky, but your’re kidding, right?
      I like Mutts a lot and he does a lot of great things, but he was king of the mental mistakes last year, particularly in crunch/high pressure situations. He seemed to be a turnover machine at the worst times. Hope he improves in that area. He had a couple huge mental lapses today in the last 4 mins. Glad it didn’t cost them.

      1. Not totally his fault no one got open and he waited just a second to late to call TO. I’ll want Mutts in my foxhole every time. Yes he makes a few more TOs than I would like but he is the heart and soul of this team. And he usually can go get it when team really needs it.

      2. That’s not true about last year; fact is that late in games during our losing streak he was by far our only player who seemed willing to back down someone and score. Our shooters like Alleyne, Aluma & Cattoor during the losses last year had a stretch where they were awful in the last 5 minutes and Mutts was the only one who didn’t look scared

      3. Well, I’m glad his 10 rebounds help cancel his “mental lapses” as you say. I love the heart and soul of Mutts. A special player who deserves a lot praise instead of negative vibes. Yea, we all have mental lapses in our lives and mistakes happen, not everyone can be perfect all of the time. Just got to keep the hammer down and do what you have been doing !!!

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