Virginia Tech won its fifth ACC road game of the season, taking down Notre Dame 67-59 in South Bend. The No. 20 Hokies have now won three of their last four games as the season winds down.
After an abysmal three-point shooting performance against Virginia just five days ago, the Hokies shot 27.8 percent from beyond the arc on Saturday afternoon. That, combined with a solid defensive effort, allowed Tech to pick up another conference win as they try to bolster their resume ahead of the ACC Tournament.
Virginia Tech started the scoring early in the first half with a jumper by Kerry Blackshear, Jr. A three-point shot by Ahmed Hill shortly after gave Tech a 5-0 lead, and the Hokies never looked back. Notre Dame was unable to get the margin closer than three and Tech led by as many as 13 at one point.
The Hokies took a 30-23 lead into halftime, and came back in the second half ready to keep the momentum going. The Irish closed in on the lead late in the game, making a jump shot and a three-pointer to get within six points, but Tech closed out the game with four made free throws to clinch the win.
With senior guard Justin Robinson out with a foot injury, Blackshear continued to lead the team. The junior forward scored 22 points, shooting 7-for-12 on field goals. He led the team in rebounds as well, snagging 14 boards, 10 of which came on the defensive side of the ball.
Blackshear was joined by Nickeil Alexander-Walker as the other Hokie to score in double digits. Alexander-Walker scored 12 points, shooting just 2-for-8 from the field but a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. He finished the night with three rebounds and two assists as well.
Virginia Tech dominated in most statistical categories on the night, especially in fast break points. The Hokies scored 19 points on fast breaks compared to the Irish's two. One area of the game where Tech struggled was turnovers, committing 16 in the game. Notre Dame capitalized on those opportunities, scoring 12 points off turnovers.
The biggest area of improvement for Tech was in the three-point shooting category. The Hokies shot just 10 percent from beyond the arc against UVA on Monday, but bumped that number up by 17 percentage points on Saturday.
The win puts the Hokies at 10-5 in ACC play with just three games left in the season. With Louisville's loss to UVA on Saturday, Tech is now sitting at fifth in the ACC standings. The Hokies have a pretty tough slate to end the season, hosting No. 1 Duke on Monday night in Cassell Coliseum. The Blue Devils could be without star forward Zion Williamson, but they will still provide plenty of challenge for the Hokies.
After the Monday night matchup against Duke, Tech will travel to Florida State before hosting Miami. The Seminoles are ranked No. 16 currently and should be a tough game, while the Hurricanes will be an easier challenge. Tech beat Miami on the road earlier in the season.
Also of note from today's game is the possibility of Justin Robinson's return to the team. Robinson has been injured since the Jan. 30 game at Miami, but the ESPN broadcasters on today's game said that "Those within the program think Justin Robinson could be back as early as the Florida State game." That game will take place on March 5 in Tallahassee, and only time will tell if the Hokies' star player will be healthy enough for a return at the end of the season.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics