The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the Charleston Classic today, picking up a 73-64 win over Ball State in the first round of the tournament. The Hokies were led by sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker with 21 points in the game.
Freshman Wabissa Bede got the first start of his career and got the offense going for the Hokies, knocking down a three-point shot just over a minute into the game. The Hokies began to run away with the score before Ball State made a quick comeback attempt halfway through the first half.
The Cardinals’ biggest lead came with 9:23 left in the first half when Tayler Persons made a three-pointer to make the score 22-17. Virginia Tech slowly clawed back and the first half ended with the Hokies leading 43-29.
Ball State started the second half on an 8-0 run, but the Cardinals were unable to get the margin smaller than five points, and the Hokies never looked back as they pulled away to clinch their second win of the season.
A couple of key stats set the tone of the game and allowed the Hokies to end up with the victory. Virginia Tech dominated near the basket, scoring 42 points in the paint, compared the Ball State’s 22. Ball State also gave up 14 turnovers in the game, allowing Tech to score 20 points of of those turnovers. While Ball State did lead in bench points, he Hokies didn’t need to go to their bench often. Three of the starters played upwards of 30 minutes in the game.
Alexander-Walker didn’t just lead the team in points, he also led with 38 minutes played in the game. He shot 9-for-15 from the field and 2-for-5 on three-point shots. He also added six rebounds and three assists to his stat totals.
Redshirt junior Kerry Blackshear Jr. was right behind him with 18 points in the contest. Blackshear shot 8-for-12 on field goals and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. He led the team in rebounds with seven – six of which were on the offensive side.
Senior point guard and de facto leader of the team Justin Robinson scored 15 points, shooting 5-for-14 from the field and 3-for-4 from the foul line. Robinson made two three-pointers in the game while also snagging two offensive rebounds and having six assists.
The Hokies overall shot 46 percent on field goals, but just 26.9 percent on three-point shots. The team was a near perfect 8-for-9 on free throws.
Virginia Tech improves to 2-0 on the season with the win and will advance to the semifinals of the tournament, where they will face Northeastern. The Huskies defeated Alabama 68-52 in their first round game on Thursday afternoon. Tipoff time is set for tomorrow at 11am on ESPN2.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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