Virginia Tech never got going in Brooklyn, falling 79-62 to St. Joseph’s on Tuesday afternoon at the Barclays Center. The Hokies are now 8-4 on the season, while the Hawks improved to 9-2.
Chris Clarke scored a basket from the paint on Tech’s first possession, giving the Hokies a 2-0 lead. Things stayed tight, as St. Joe’s held a flimsy 12-11 lead with 11:06 remaining in the first half. However, a 15-2 run that gave the Hawks a 27-13 lead with 4:46 left in the first half sealed Virginia Tech’s fate.
Tech was smashed by two tough and very skilled St. Joe’s players. DeAndre’ Bembry had 22 points and seven rebounds, but the real monster was Isaiah Miles. Miles finished with a career high in points (36), rebounds (15) and blocks (4). Miles is a very unique player at 6-7, 227, who is both skilled enough to put the ball on the floor and shoot three-pointers (he was 3-of-5 from the outside and 11-of-12 from the free throw line), but also tough enough to mix it up on the inside.
Miles and Bembry were the big reasons St. Joe’s outrebounded Virginia Tech 48-32. The Hawks represent a major increase in competition from what the Hokies have been playing recently. Many of the excellent statistics the Hokies put up in rebounding and free throw attempts could be erased by bigger, more athletic and deeper ACC teams.
Zach LeDay had his seventh double-double of the season (10 points, 11 rebounds), and he also blocked four shots. However, he didn’t have much help. Seth Allen had 18 points, and he looked like a big-time player at times. However, he also had five turnovers, did a poor job of finding open teammates in transition, and at times struggled to finish around the basket.
A game after scoring a career-high 31 points against Grambling State, Justin Bibbs had just eight points. He did not record a single rebound going up against the bigger, more athletic and tougher duo of Bembry and Miles. Kerry Blackshear had six points and three rebounds, but recorded his fourth foul very early in the second half, and finally left the game with a head injury with only a few minutes remaining.
St. Joe’s only shot 39.4% compared to Tech’s 40.3%. However, their 19 offensive rebounds gave them numerous second chance attempts, and their 25 free throw attempts easily outpaced Tech’s 11. In other words, the Hokies lost in the exact way that they’ve been winning games recently.
Virginia Tech’s next game will be against West Virginia in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday, December 30. Tipoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.