Tenth-ranked Virginia Tech used a pair of second-half spurts to pull away from Notre Dame Tuesday and score an 81-66 win at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. paced the balanced Hokies (12-1, 1-0) with 21 points and seven rebounds, winning the battle inside with Fighting Irish big man John Mooney. Entering the game averaging nearly 12.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, Mooney took just four shots in 26 minutes, finishing with nine points and 10 boards.
Virginia Tech guards Ahmed Hill and Nickeil Alexander-Walker each hit 7 of 8 field goals for 17 points, while Ty Outlaw came off the bench to hit 4 of 7 3-point attempts en route to 14 points. The Hokies shot 60 percent from the field and went 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) from the 3-point line.
T.J. Gibbs led Notre Dame (10-4, 0-1) with 19 points and four assists, while D.J. Harvey scored 16 points. Reserve freshman Nate Laszewski added 14.
Tech started the second half with three straight 3-point plays in the first 1:41, sending Notre Dame shot blocker Juwan Durham to the bench with four fouls in the process. The Irish pulled within 43-42 at 14:47, but Hill and Alexander-Walker combined for 14 straight Hokies points to up the lead to 10 at 57-47 with 9:22 to play.
The Hokies blew it open late with 11 consecutive points. Outlaw canned a 3-pointer with 5:14 left for a 71-53 advantage.
The teams battled through the first eight minutes on even terms before the Hokies made the first hit. Beginning with a short jumper by Blackshear, they went on a 15-2 run that lasted more than six minutes. A layup by Alexander-Walker at the 5:26 mark gave them a 28-15 lead.
The Fighting Irish erased almost all of the lead after that, however, using the 3-point shot to gain traction. Following a mid-range shot by Blackshear that made it 30-18, Notre Dame rattled off 10 consecutive points to close out the half.
Laszewski and Gibbs each drained 3s, and Laszewski capped the run with a jumper 33 seconds before intermission to cut the Virginia Tech lead to 30-28 at halftime.
—Field Level Media