Despite missing 16-straight shots at one point in the first half, Virginia Tech entered halftime only down 11 with still a small glimmer of hope that a comeback was possible. While the Hokies shooting struggles disappeared in the second half, Notre Dame's control of the game didn't on the Fighting Irish's way to victory.
Virginia Tech fell to Notre Dame 64-56 to fall to 16-15 on the season and 7-13 in ACC play while Notre Dame improves to 19-12 including 10-10 in ACC play.
The Hokies will now wait to see what happens between Miami and Syracuse this evening to determine their ACC Tournament seeding. A Miami win will have the Hokies playing in the first round in Greensboro as likely an 11 seed while a Miami loss secures the 10 seed and a first round bye for Tech.
This game was a tale of two halves as both teams struggled offensively in the first half highlighted by the Hokies missing 16-straight shots. However, Notre Dame's 6-15 three-point shooting proved vital especially with the Hokies only shooting 3-17 from three.
Additionally, Tech was dominated around the rim as the Fighting Irish had a 26-18 points in the paint advantage, 11-6 second chance point advantage, and 9-3 offensive rebound advantage. The size of Notre Dame proved to be a major problem and also caused some hesitancy early that helped slow Tech's offense to a crawl.
One positive for the Hokies was the fact that they had only 9 turnovers while Notre Dame had 16. Tech turned that into a 14-7 points off turnover advantage, but were unable to maximize that given their struggles elsewhere in this game.
Part of the issue came from the shooting struggles for Jalen Cone and Landers Nolley. Cone had his worst shooting performance of the season going 0-8 from the field and 0-7 from three-point range while Nolley had 7 points on 3-12 shooting including 1-5 from three. When the Hokies have two of their top 3 most consistent scorers shooting a combined 3-20, Tech will be often lucky to even finish with 10 points.
One player who had a strong game today was P.J. Horne as the junior big man had 14 points and 7 rebounds on 5-9 shooting including 4-8 from three. Meanwhile, Hunter Cattoor had a very good game as well with 12 points on 4-7 shooting from three plus 4 rebounds as Horne and Cattoor proved valuable in keeping Tech alive for as long as they were.
Tyrece Radford had 8 points on 4-8 shooting along with 7 rebounds while Nahiem Alleyne had 9 points and Wabissa Bede had 2 points and 5 assists. John Ojiako had an extremely limited role with a 1-minute cameo in this game.
T.J. Gibbs was the star for Notre Dame on his Senior Day with 22 points on 7-12 shooting including 5-8 from three. John Mooney was held to only 7 points on 2-8 shooting but also had 13 rebounds while Dane Goodwin had 13 points on 6-12 shooting plus 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
After a strong start, Virginia Tech's offense has slowed immensely in recent weeks with this first half epitomizing that. Now, the Hokies head to the ACC Tournament in Greensboro needing to win it to extend their season after being on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble just over a month ago.