Late Rally Pushes College of Charleston By Virginia Tech, 77-75

The Hokies and Sean Pedulla went toe-to-toe with College of Charleston, but it wasn’t enough. (Virginia Tech athletics)

At the under-eight media timeout in the second half in TD Arena on Sunday afternoon, Virginia Tech led College of Charleston by eight, 61-53. At the moment, the Hokies had hit 14 of their last 19 shots, including eight of their last nine.

They traded baskets and runs with the hosts all afternoon. In the first half, the Cougars led by as much as 13. Tech soon stormed back to tie it. But when it seemed like Mike Young’s crew might put the game to bed, disaster stuck. The Hokies went cold and College of Charleston heated up, running away with a 77-75 win in the final of the Charleston Classic.

“They’re a good team, don’t get that mistaken,” Tech guard Hunter Cattoor said afterwards. “They came out, they had a good game plan, they played hard. That’s just kind of like who they are. They’re a team that’s going to play hard, they’re going to crash the glass. They’ve got guys out there that can hit shots, and that’s what they did down the stretch.”

Back-to-back 3-pointers from 6-9 big man Ante Brzovic (15 points, 3-of-4 3FG) got the Cougars going with eight minutes to go. And after a great start to the second half, the Hokies struggled down the stretch, making just 4-of-12 baskets in the final eight minutes and turning it over three times. The Cougars? 10-of-14. They proceeded to outscore Tech 24-14 in that span.

Despite Cattoor scoring five points on two possessions to tie the game with :31 to play in the Holy City, the Hokies couldn’t close the deal. Pat Robinson III, who combined with Brzovic for College of Charleston’s final six field goals, scored the game-winning bucket with three seconds remaining, scurrying past Mylyjael Poteat and hitting a floater over Justyn Mutts.

“That’s on me,” Tech head coach Mike Young told reporters afterwards. “We had Mylyjael on 15 and 15 got to his left hand and got to the basket. … I know it was on me as a head coach.”

It was a very back-and-forth contest. The Hokies (5-1) led for 19:06; the Cougars (5-1) for 18:26. For the first time all season, Tech’s opponent led in the second half. And in a game of runs, College of Charleston got the last opportunity.

The Hokies shot the ball much better in the second half, but they weren’t good enough in the final stretch. (Virginia Tech athletics)

After a slow start to the first half, one in which Tech shot 40% from the floor, it did well pulling back within arm’s reach of CofC. Moreover, it took the lead in the first three minutes of the second half thanks to an 11-0 run.

But as was the theme for the Hokies in their trip to Charleston, they struggled to put opponents away. They played both Old Dominion and Penn State close. In Sunday’s championship match, the home crowd of 5,100 was the difference, and Tech never put the Cougars away.

“They did a good job of staying poised and not letting us kind of beat up on them a little bit in the game,” Pedulla said of College of Charleston. “They didn’t really make any mistakes towards the end of the game so that’s what made it hard to pull away.”

One of the interesting aspects to the game was the speed of play. Tech is known for playing slow; the Cougars are the opposite, ranking 13th in adjusted tempo according to Ken Pomeroy. And with the home crowd behind them – head coach Pat Kelsey described the atmosphere as “elite” and said they had the “wind at [their] back” – they sped the Hokies up.

Through the first five games, the most possessions they had in a game was 65. For comparison, they had 73 on Sunday. Young said he felt like his group was better in the second half in controlling the game, and shooting 61% in the second half is no joke. But it often felt like Tech was rushed or out of sync.

College of Charleston usually pushed the ball down the floor as fast as it could. That put the Hokies in a scramble defensively, and the motion offense was pressed to score on the ensuing possession. It wasn’t the make-or-break point, though.

“I thought we did okay,” Young said. “I thought we were better in the second half offensively than we were in the first half. They want as many possessions as possible. We’re typically at 62, 63, 64. … I thought our guys did a pretty good job with that part of it.”

Hunter Cattoor and the Hokies couldn’t finish this time. (Virginia Tech athletics)

The fact that the 3-point shot didn’t fall worked against Tech, too. Neither team was fantastic behind the arc – 22.2% for VT, 34.8% for CofC – but the Cougars made some key shots down the stretch from long range. After a 3-of-19 day at the office vs. Penn State, Tech followed it up with a 6-of-27 performance. That’s a 9-of-46 mark (19.6%) in back-to-back games, and including Lehigh on Nov. 10, Tech has hit six or fewer threes in half of its games.

The fact that the Hokies came so close after being down big in the first half was a positive sign. All five starters – Pedulla (17 points), Cattoor (17), Maddox (8), Grant Basile (12) and Mutts (16) – made important contributions in the second half. MJ Collins grabbed four rebounds, too, and showed some promise.

But in the end, Maddox’s half-court heave careened off the rim as the buzzer sounded, giving Virginia Tech its first loss of the season.

“I told them I had some concerns,” Young said of his team. “Nothing egregious, nothing glaring after our first three games. I needed to see some heat on their backside and see how they would respond. The new guys, Maddox and Pedulla in different roles.

“Three games here, we saw a number of different situations, we played three good ball teams and I’m more convinced now than when we began the trek to the low country about our team’s toughness, our team’s resolve and our team’s ability to win a number of games.”

Box Score: Link 

23 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I’m a little worried that we only went to the line five times. In order to play with the big boys, we will need to take the ball to the hoop and get fouled more often.

    1. Did you watch the game? Refs were really letting them play and by that I mean not calling much on them even when we were getting hacked

    2. The winning basket would have been called a charge if the teams were reversed. See Maddox’s 4th foul. Less contact and the foul was called with the basket waived off.

    3. Oh we got fouled plenty – just not called. The first 5 CoC opponents this year took an average of 23.4 FT per game. We took 5 and the hatched, pushed and tripped us all game long. Refs were ridiculous.

    4. Hey, I would have liked to see more fouls called as well. But “the refs cheated” song won’t do us much good in ACC play.

      1. Acc refs more consistent-this crew got wrapped up in hometown high school gym ra ra upset special…win for host team and beat ACC tournament champs.

  2. Three sloppy, inconsistent games, but it is early in the season, they will get it together. The new guys will blend in better as December winds up. The big guys need to do more shot blocking and intimidating near the bucket. The last/winning basket should have been swatted rather than attempting to take a charge. Basile also need to limit his 3-point attempts, those misses are a momentum killer. There is a lot of talent on this team, could be a good season.

    1. If attempting to take a charge you’ve got to sell it! Backing up after contact instead of hitting the floor allows the ref to “ no call” at that critical point in the game. The contact was there and had Mutts held his ground and let the guy take him down the ref would not be able to ignore.
      JMHO….that needs to be coached!

    2. Basile hit 2 of 7 from 3 pt. Maddox, Collins and Pedulla were a combined 1-12. I don’t think he shot too many. As long as it’s an open shot.

    1. A coach as experienced and accomplished as CMY should never have let that happen. Having Catoor or Pedulla guarding Robinson isn’t a guarantee they’d have prevented him from scoring but I sure like our chances better. That guy only went to his left going to the hoop. CMY should have told Poteat that and had him force Robinson to his right.

      1. He was posting up our guards with a lot of success. I am sure Poteat was trying not to foul since the game was tied. In hindsight a foul might have been better because it might have left us another second or two and might have missed one or both FTs.

  3. Brvsovic is the guy who killed us. I think the commentators said he had only hit 4 three-pointers all season, but he hit 3 out of 4 in this game. Our 3-point shooting has been terrible so far this season

  4. Disappointing loss. Aren’t they all? But, I think this team is going to be OK. It’s a long season so hold on Hokies.

  5. The sloppy play at the end yielding several unforced turnovers and Coach’s Technical foul were both costly and inexcusable. There’s multiple other ways to get your team fired up as opposed to a bench foul which gives them shots and the ball back. Coach may also need to look at a zone defense in certain situations to change things up. A zone may have worked better at the end as it may have better suited our post players we have and kept them from being placed in mismatches.

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