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Hokies Squash the Spiders, Claiming First-Round NIT Victory at Home

By Kyle Beene | March 20
K 574
Lynn Kidd slams the alley-oop from Sean Pedulla (Kyle Beene)

No. 3 seed Virginia Tech defeated No. 6 seed Richmond 74-58 in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.

The Hokies were flat coming out of the gates, missing a trio of threes to open up the game. Lynn Kidd got one to go just before the clock hit 17:00 to pause the slow start, but six more scoreless minutes saw the Hokies go down 11-2 near the midway point of the first half.

"I thought we took a couple of quick shots. Their defense they employ can slow you down and cause you to stand," said Head Coach Mike Young. "Once we got our teeth into it and the ball started to move, we got a couple of shots down."

Across the board, shooting struggled, especially Tech's initiator Sean Pedulla, who opened the game 1-8 from the field.

"I've never been one to stop shooting. I'm a confident player," said Pedulla. "I'm not about to go to the second half and not take shots. I think that would hinder our chances of being successful even more."

Finally, MJ Collins nailed one from deep to answer Isaiah Bigelow and Dji Bailey's solid starts, with seven and four points respectively.

Kidd followed up with a great streak to finally get some points up on the board, draining Tech's next four buckets over Neal Quinn, the Spiders' 7'0" center.

With Collins draining his second three and Hunter Cattoor getting involved at the charity stripe, the Hokies closed the gap to a two-possession game with five left in the half.

"It's a big deal. [MJ] had a couple of big baskets. He is shooting the ball well," said Young. "He had some real struggles in November and December. He hung in there with it and stayed the course."

Amid a rough stretch, the Spiders would soon lose the lead with Mylyjael Poteat's offensive board to layup and Pedulla's drive tying the game at 24. Virginia Tech continued to overcome their early deficit with a pair in the paint from Poteat, throwing one down on Collins' assist and dropping in a jumper.

Starting to find their groove, the Hokies fought to a five-point lead at the half, scoring 31 of their 33 points after the second media timeout.

The second half startlingly began like the first, scoring one bucket and going cold for several minutes. With just a dunk and a free throw nearly six minutes in, the Hokies surrendered a 39-36 lead to the Spiders.

Breaking the second slump, Pedulla tied it once again with a big three near Tech's bench, igniting the team like he's done all year. He and Nickel tailed it with shots in the paint, the latter snagging an and-one opportunity which he converted.

"I think it was just offensively getting into a rhythm and not to take as rough shots that we did in the first 10 minutes," said Pedulla. "Once we settled in and got our feet in defensively, I think those shots came a little bit better."

Pedulla and Kidd ran the game from then on, breaking away from the Spiders with their chemistry. Quinn just simply couldn't contain Kidd in the paint, shooting over him and dropping the hammer when Pedulla's passes found their mark.

"I was disappointed [Lynn] wasn't the most improved player," said Young. "He had a couple of really hard shots that he got up on the backboard and got them in the basket."

Isaiah Bigelow and Dji Bailey each scored 15 for the Spiders. Bigelow also had seven boards to help out down low. Richmond's A-10 Player of the Year Jordan King struggled to get going with Cattoor's stifling defense, hitting just two shots for six points.

"From under the 15-minute mark, I thought we were pretty good forcing them to take tough shots," said Pedulla. "Other than a couple offensive rebounds and easy put-backs, I thought we really got into them, didn't get rejected, a lot of ball screens, and funneled the ball to where we wanted it to be."

Kidd led with 20 and eight boards, often assisted by Pedulla, who closed with 17 and seven dimes after his 1-8 FG start. Collins finished with 15 points and six boards, draining four three-balls; and the program leader in threes Cattoor put up 10 to surpass 1,500 career points in his final game at Cassell Coliseum.

"Jordan King is the A-10 player of the year," said Young. "Hunter had the lion's share of the responsibilities on King, and to be able to bring him on the floor for one last time was awesome and the Hokie faithful responded."

Virginia Tech advances to play at Ohio State (21-13, 9-11 Big Ten) on Saturday or Sunday in the NIT's second round.

Me Ronnie

Born into a family of Hokies, I can remember watching Frank Beamer and Tyrod Taylor on Saturdays with the family, so attending VT was always the dream. 


In 2020, I began my time at Virginia Tech in the Sports Media Analytics program and eventually joined the Sons in January of 2023 as the softball beat writer. Now, I’ve got football, basketball, and baseball coverage, plus you’ll see some of my photographs in articles throughout the website. 


Graduation is on the horizon, but I can’t wait to come back in the fall to begin my Master’s and continue working with the team!


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