The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team (13-14, 3-11 ACC) stayed in reach of No. 20/18 Virginia Tech (20-6, 9-5) throughout the contest, but the veteran Hokies held off the Irish for a 67-59 Atlantic Coast Conference victory in Purcell Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
Virginia Tech’s Kerry Blackshear Jr. led the visitors with a game-high 22 points and 14 rebounds, while T.J. Gibbs paced the Irish with 18 points and three steals.
While Notre Dame held Virginia Tech to 36.5 percent from the field, the Hokies were able to collect 18 offensive rebounds, out-rebound the Irish 49-27 and score 15 second-chance points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Notre Dame started 0-for-6 from the field but the Irish defense kept the Hokies close – as Virginia Tech was able to score just five points over the first four minutes of the game. The visitors eventually pulled ahead by 11 with 9:34 left in first half.
Notre Dame came back with a Gibbs three pointer and John Mooney lay-in to cut the lead down to six, but the Hokies quickly answered with a three-point play by Nickeil Alexander-Walker to keep the home team at bay.
Another Irish rally cut the visitor advantage to four with 3:27 remaining in the first half but the Hokies responded again with a corner three pointer and two free throws to push the lead back to seven at the halftime break.
That seven point lead was maintained throughout the first 12 minutes of the second half as both defenses dominated the action – making it tough on both teams to score. Virginia Tech pushed the lead to as many as 13 in the second half until the Irish made a final 6-0 run to make things interesting.
A three-pointer from Gibbs cut the Hokie lead to 52-46 with 2:30 remaining, but Blackshear answered with four consecutive free throws of his own to stretch the lead back to 10 points and all but wrap up the game for the visiting team.
NOTRE DAME PLAYER OF THE GAME
T.J. Gibbs led the Notre Dame offense with 18 points and now has 78 points over his past four games played. He also led the team with three steals.
NOTRE DAME STAT OF THE GAME
Freshman Prentiss Hubb dished out seven assists in today’s game, reaching 104 assists in his rookie season. He becomes the eighth true freshman to reach the 100 assist mark at Notre Dame since 1972-73 and the fourth Mike Brey-era rookie to do so (Chris Thomas, Tory Jackson and Eric Atkins).
NOTES OF THE GAME
John Mooney secured his ACC-leading 17th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He is now tied for 13th on the Notre Dame single-season list for double-doubles in a single season.
Notre Dame faces a quick turnaround and takes on No. 16/17 Florida State on ESPN’s Big Monday at 7 p.m. ET.