Hokies, Sean Pedulla Race Past Notre Dame In 82-76 Win

Hunter Cattoor and the Hokies had a fantastic senior day. (Jon Fleming)

Paced by standout guard Sean Pedulla’s game-high 28 points, the Hokies fended off Notre Dame 82-76 to win their third straight game and secure a first-round bye at next week’s ACC Tournament on Saturday afternoon inside Cassell Coliseum.

Virginia Tech (18-13, 10-10 ACC) did so without the likes of starting center Lynn Kidd (hamstring), too, making Pedulla’s performance that much more important to find a way to win.

“Golly day, he’s just such a downhill all gas, no breaks,” fifth-year head coach Mike Young said of Pedulla. “He had a couple of opportunities in transition. Man, he was hard to handle. … He’s a heck of a player. 

“He is a really, really good basketball player that had another great game in here this afternoon.”

What’s even crazier? Pedulla didn’t hit a single three over the course of the contest and only scored four from the charity stripe in the six-point win over Notre Dame (12-19, 7-13).

His impact was embodied even further late in the game. Up 74-72 with just under a minute to go, Pedulla drove right to the rim, scoring for two, and on the ensuing possession, the junior scampered back on the defensive end, blocked a shot and went coast-to-coast for two more points to put the Hokies up six, 78-72, with 35.3 left.

Sean Pedulla’s block in the final minute was huge for the Hokies. (Jon Fleming)

“I think today was different just because I was really attacking in transition and trying to get downhill,” Pedulla said. “A lot of times their trail man was a little late, so that kind of allowed me to go one-and-one, and if I didn’t get a bucket, it was a foul or a good shot at the rim. 

“So I was just being aggressive. I didn’t knock down any shots from the outside, but it is good to produce that much whenever shots aren’t falling and just resort to other things other than just continuing to shoot threes.”

The Hokies also finished the night with a 39-28 advantage on the glass and secured 15 offensive boards — their second-highest mark of the season. 

That’s a total flip of the script from the team’s 74-66 loss on Feb. 10 up in South Bend when it was outrebounded 34-28 in a back-breaking loss. 

It’s particularly impressive without Kidd, too, with Mylyjael Poteat and MJ Collins each leading the way with eight boards apiece. 

“[We had] just a better nose for the ball,” Young said. “We weren’t very good up there, and I take nothing away from the Fighting Irish. … They were more physical than we were. I thought we were more physical today. They outrebounded us [there] and we outrebounded them today. It’s funny how that works.

Sean Pedulla paced Virginia Tech with 28 points against Notre Dame. (Jon Fleming)

“I don’t know why we would try to do it any other way.”

Notre Dame first-year head coach Micah Shrewsberry said the Hokies just wanted it more on Saturday.

“We talk about it, we work on it, but rebounding is about want to,” he said. “Do you want to get it or do you not want to get it? Shot goes up, it’s hit or be hit. It’s your choice. Tonight we chose to be hit, I guess. They just wanted it more, and that’s why they were getting it.”

Overall, Tech got contributions from everywhere. Pedulla’s 28 points led the way but Collins (4-of-10, 3-of-7 3FG) and Tyler Nickel (4-of-9, 2-of-5 3FG) each contributed 15 points apiece. 

That’s also without mentioning Hunter Cattoor, who played in front of the Cassell Coliseum crowd for the final time. 

The fifth-year senior added nine points of his own, while Poteat put up eight, Brandon Rechsteiner scored three and Robbie Beran and Patrick Wessler each finished with two.

Patrick Wessler scored his first collegiate basket for the Hokies on Saturday. (Jon Fleming)

It was Wessler’s first-ever points scored in an ACC contest. The Matthews, N.C., native gave the Hokies nine quality minutes in Kidd’s absence. 

The team also went 19-of-24 (79.2%) from the line and shot 44 percent (28-of-63) from the field. That’s winning basketball.

Virginia Tech now turns its attention to the ACC Tournament, which begins on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. It’s the No. 8 seed and will play No. 9 seed Florida State in the second round on Wednesday at noon ET in Capital One Arena. The winner draws No. 1 seed North Carolina.

Regardless, Tech’s playing good basketball and heads into postseason play on a three-game win streak.

“I think we have a lot of momentum,” Pedulla said. “We’re starting to play better. We’re playing the right way. Guys are hitting shots. We’re playing good basketball, and we’re confident that we’re able to make a run and play with anybody on any given night. So just got to string it a couple of days in a row.” 

“It’s a new world,” Young said. “Our sole focus will be winning one game. Win a game, and we don’t even know who that’s going to be until everything shakes out later tonight. 

“… Let’s get to D.C. and get settled in and put the finishing touches on our preparation, whomever that might be, and be ready to rip at noon on Wednesday. Be ready to go, and we’ll do just that.”

Box Score: Virginia Tech 82, Notre Dame 76 

9 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Good work Carter.

    Ok, I’m eating a little crow here. Every yr my expectations for MY & his VT teams are very realistic: Just try to go .500 in conference play; win enough away to balance the home losses to the good teams (e.g. Dook, UNC). After loss to Notre Damn in Feb, I was pretty critical, wondering if they would win ANY more games. But, they got to 10-10, barely; but, they got. So congrats Hokies.

  2. I was impressed with Wessler, especially the minutes he played in the second half. I liked his grit and his hustle with rebounding including the basket off an offensive rebound, the steal he helped create on defense, and even the near block on the ND big man’s layup after beating Wessler on the fake with Wessler hustling back to prevent the basket. He’s a gawky and awkward looking player with obvious athletic shortcomings right now, but it appears he hustles and has some skills. I don’t see him developing into a dominant player, but I think he can get better and contribute. He helped them win today.

    1. I was also impressed with the minutes Wessler played. Loved his hustle and grit. A little awkward but he was determined. Great job Patrick.

    2. In the game before this one, when Wessler got some decent minutes, my 15 second (or less) take on seeing him was “Big, reasonably fast for his size, but not quick at all”.

      In this game, he showed SOME decent footwork and quickness. Not guardlike by any means, but some.

  3. That photo of Pedulla blocking the shot is amazing! Reminds me of pics we used to see in Sports Illustrated years ago.

  4. We pretty much had to win our last 3 to have a shot at the NIT. And we did it. Won 2 more ACC games than last year. We lost a couple of great players from last year and still had a decent season even though it felt lousy at times. Hope we can win a post-season game this year. And feel like we took a slight step up.

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