Hokies fall 71-65 to Irish in ACC Tournament

12F
Notre Dame (20-13) 215071
Virginia Tech (21-11) 343165
  • Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY) - 17,732
  • High Points: 15 - Justin Bibbs, Justin Robinson
  • High Rebounds: 8 - Kerry Blackshear Jr.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In the second round of the New York Life ACC Tournament, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team fell to the hands of Notre Dame and its second-half surge, 71-65, on Wednesday night inside the Barclays Center.

The Hokies (21-11, 10-8 ACC) fell in their first game of an ACC Tournament since 2014, while the Fighting Irish (20-13, 8-10 ACC) won their second consecutive game and will face two-seeded Duke on Thursday.

Guards Justin Bibbs and Justin Robinson tallied a team-high 15 points apiece and forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. almost posted a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds. It was Blackshear’s third time owning eight or more rebounds versus an ACC opponent this season.

Tied at 15-all at the 10:39 mark of the first half, junior Chris Clarke pulled down a rebound and went coast-to-coast, turning in the old school three-point play. The board and bucket ignited Tech for an 8-2 run, forcing a Notre Dame timeout.

Following the break in action, the Hokies kept their momentum by finishing the half with scoring 11 of the next 15 points. They went into intermission with a 34-21 advantage behind holding the Irish to shooting 25 percent from the field. The Irish’s 21 points at half were their fewest since Feb. 3 against NC State when they scored exactly 21, too.

Just 1 minute, 30 seconds into the second frame, Tech built its lead to a 17-point advantage after consecutive fastbreak layups, making Notre Dame call another timeout. Tech continued scoring the basketball at a high rate, manufacturing an advantage as many as 21 points after a Blackshear layup with 15 minutes left to play.

Notre Dame stormed back, though, going on a 16-3 run over a four-minute span to cut the deficit to four points with 7:45 remaining. Play would go back-and-forth until the Irish’s Bonzie Colson banked in a 3-pointer at the 2:02 mark, giving them their first lead of the second half.

The Irish stretched their lead to seven points with 35 ticks left, but Nickeil Alexander-Walker nailed a triple and on the ensuing Hokie possession, Robinson hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to trim Notre Dame’s lead to three. The Irish would make three free throws down the stretch to claim it.

NOTES

• Tech falls to 3-4 in the ACC Tournament under head coach Buzz Williams.

• Bibbs’ 15 points were his most since Feb. 14 at Duke. The senior has owned 12 games this season of scoring 15 or more points.

• The Hokies controlled the paint, outscoring the Irish 30-16, and the bench as well with a 17-2 advantage.

• Clarke registered his second game in a row of scoring in double figures, a first for him this season, as the forward recorded 12 points, five rebounds and two assists.

QUOTING BUZZ WILLIAMS

“We disintegrated and did not guard,” Williams commented on the second half. “They scored 45 points in the last 15 minutes. We were okay offensively, but not great. We didn’t guard the ball well and they forced help, made some 3s.”

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WHAT IS NEXT

• The Hokies will wait for their future on Sunday, as the NCAA Tournament bracket release is on TBS at 6 p.m. ET.

For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter

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