BLACKSBURG – Trevor Thompson recorded his first double-double and Jarell Eddie had 17 points, as the Hokies led from start to finish in downing Western Carolina 79-61 in a nonconference game Friday night at Cassell Coliseum.
The Hokies (2-1) jumped out to 22-point, first-half lead and had a 20-point halftime lead. Eddie scored 10 of his 17 points in the first half for Tech, which shot 51.6 percent on 16-of-31 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
“We talked about getting off to a good start, which is something we hadn’t done in our first two games,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “I thought we did that tonight, and it started on the defensive end of the floor. We got stops. We got consecutive stops, and we were able to put the ball in the hole.”
Western Carolina (2-2) scored just three points in the first eight minutes – all on free throws. The Catamounts missed their first 11 shots and didn’t hit a field goal until Justin Browning’s basket with 10:31 left in the first half.
The Catamounts shot just 22.2 percent on 6-of-27 shooting in the first half. They only made 32.8 percent (20 of 61) for the game, including 3-of-25 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
Thompson’s three first-half dunks got the crowd in the game, and in the second half, he scored nine points. He finished with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor and 7-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line and he added 11 rebounds.
It marked the second straight solid performance for the 6-foot-11 freshman, who did not play in the season opener against USC Upstate. He had seven points and five rebounds in 17 minutes in the Hokies’ win over West Virginia.
“I wasn’t thinking about the first game. I trust my coaches in everything they do,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to go in and do what my coaches wanted me to do, which was rebound, block shots and run the floor.”
The Catamounts cut the lead to 53-43 on two free throws by Browning with 7:43 left, but got no closer. But Thompson then hit two free throws, and after a turnover by Western Carolina’s Brandon Boggs, the Hokies’ Devin Wilson added two more free throws with 7:27 remaining to push the lead to 57-43. The Catamounts got no closer than 12 the rest of the game.
Eddie, who made a big basket late against West Virginia to help Tech in that game, connected on 6 of 10 against the Catamounts, including 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He also grabbed six rebounds.
“I’m just trying to do whatever it is the team needs me to do,” Eddie said. “Go out and play aggressive. The young guys stepped up and were able to help us. It’s not about what I can do. It’s whatever the team needs.”
The Hokies also got 16 points from freshman Ben Emelogu.
James Sinclair led the Catamounts with 16 points. Trey Sumler, who scored 29 points in the Catamounts’ loss at Oregon, finished with 11 on just 5-of-14 shooting.
Tech continues nonconference action next Monday when it takes on VMI at Cassell Coliseum. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
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