On Wednesday night in Ohio, the 2022-23 season came to a close for Virginia Tech. The Hokies fought with Cincinnati for 40 minutes but fell short in the first round of the NIT, 81-72.
In his final collegiate game, Justyn Mutts led Tech (19-15, 8-12 ACC) in scoring with 19 points. He was 9-of-12 from the floor while grabbing six rebounds, and 11 of his points came in the second half. Grant Basile also chipped in 17 points and corralled seven boards.
The Hokies shot 45.5% from the floor, but it was in other places where they fell off. They only made six of their 26 3-point attempts (23%), shot just eight free throws to Cincinnati’s 20 and were outrebounded by 13, 42-29.
And the Bearcats’ pressure got to them in the second half, too. After just two turnovers in the first 20 minutes, Tech gave it away six times after intermission. There were some spurts of sloppy basketball, and Mike Young’s crew never fully regained control of the game. Cincinnati (22-12, 11-7 AAC) snatched the lead back with 12:44 remaining and was comfortable the rest of the way.
Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla also scored in double figures for VT, though like their teammates, they struggled to get going for much of the game. Despite finishing 3-of-7 from deep, Cattoor missed his first four attempts from distance, most of them open looks. Basile and Pedulla each had a few in the waning moments, which would’ve drawn Tech closer, but couldn’t capitalize. Cattoor and Pedulla scored 13 and 10, respectively.
Four of Cincinnati’s five starters scored in double figures, led by David DeJulius. He was everywhere, scoring 21 points, dishing out seven assists while adding six rebounds. He also got to the free throw line often, making nine of his 11 attempts.
Former Hokie Landers Nolley had the game’s lone double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, though he was limited in the first half thanks to solid defense from Cattoor. Mika Adams-Woods and Ody Oguama scored 10 each, and one of the biggest contributions came from Jeremiah Davenport’s 12 points off the bench.
Virginia Tech led by four at the break, 33-29. But Cincinnati found its shooting touch in the second half while turning on the pressure, which forced Tech into some tough spots. The Hokies were better in spurts but couldn’t take full control of the contest. And when they needed a run down the stretch, the Bearcats outscored them 9-4 over the final three minutes.