November 18, 2015
LeDay leads Hokies past Jacksonville State
Hokies' post player scored 15 points and Chris Clarke added a double-double in the win
Jacksonville State (2-2) 332962
Virginia Tech (1-1) 383371
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 4,984
  • High Points: 15 - Zach LeDay
  • High Rebounds: 11 - Chris Clarke

BLACKSBURG – Zach LeDay scored 15 points, hitting several big baskets down the stretch to help Virginia Tech defeat Jacksonville State 71-62 in a non-conference game at Virginia Tech Carilion Court at Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night.

The win marked the Hokies’ first of the season following a season-opening defeat to Alabama State on Saturday. Jacksonville State fell to 2-2.

The game was part of the Emerald Coast Classic.

LeDay scored just three points in the first half, but he started attacking the offensive glass and his teammates started finding him in the second. He scored 12 points in the final 20 minutes, helping the Hokies bounce back their season opener.

LeDay, a transfer from South Florida who sat out last season, hit 6 of 11 from the floor and he also grabbed nine rebounds – five offensive. That performance came on the heels of a 26-point, 15-rebound game against Alabama State.

“I just go out and play hard, and whatever happens, happens,” LeDay said. “I don’t really play for stats or anything like that. I just want to get wins. If it [his play] leads to double-doubles … I’m just going to keep playing hard and doing the best I can.”

Tech led by as many as 12 in the second half, but Jacksonville State cut the lead to two on two occasions, the final time coming on a Jeremy Watson basket with 7:07 left.

But the Hokies’ Kerry Blackshear, Jr. scored with 6:55 to go and that sparked a 7-0 run punctuated by LeDay’s basket with 5:03 left gave the Hokies a 60-51 lead. Erik Durham’s 3-pointer with 2:40 remaining cut the lead to 61-58, but the Gamecocks got no closer.

Following Durham’s 3-pointer, LeDay scored inside for the Hokies with 2:07 left to push the lead to 63-58. Durham’s two free throws cut the lead to three again, but LeDay scored inside again, giving Virginia Tech a 65-60 lead with 1:35 remaining.

“I just let it [the game] come to me,” LeDay said. “I was forcing it a little in the first half. I was going baseline and stuff like that, but in the second half, I calmed down and let it come to me – and I ended up with 15.”

“I think Zach has been good,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “I just don’t think Zach has been heralded in such a manner prior to being eligible that he was as good. I’m not sure why, but typically those guys have always been good for us.

“I don’t know that 26 and 15 is who he is. I don’t know that 15 and 9 is who he is. But I know what his heart is, and through two games, our team definitely depends on his heart and his toughness.”

The Gamecocks (2-2) came up empty on their next possession, and Blackshear, Jr. scored with 58 seconds to go to all but seal the game for the Hokies.

The game marked a contrast to the season opener when Virginia Tech allowed Alabama State to shoot 54 percent in the second half in an 85-82 loss. Jacksonville State shot just 37.5 percent (24 of 64) and made just 10 baskets in the second half.

“The priority was defense and the priority was rebounding,” Williams said. “The priority was keeping them off the offensive glass. I thought our effort was better, for sure.

“I thought our intensity was better and our passion was more evident. Defensively, within how we play, when the ball moves, you have to move, whether it’s your man or not. I thought we moved with the ball at a much quicker rate, so that kept them from forcing us into rotation because we stayed within the ball and the basket. That enabled us to defensively rebound the ball better.”

Chris Clarke, a freshman who made his first start, added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Hokies, who also got 11 points from Justin Bibbs.

Virginia Tech won despite missing 15 free throws for the second straight game and committing 17 turnovers. The Hokies, though, had a 54-29 rebounding edge and scored 20 second-chance points.

Jacksonville State was led by Durham, who scored 21.

Tech serves as host to VMI on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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