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Virginia Tech Narrowly Defeats Old Dominion in Charleston Classic Opener

By Nels Williams | November 17
Sean Pedulla once again led Virginia Tech in points scored. (Virginia Tech Athletics

It felt like Old Dominion was going to defeat Virginia Tech in both football and basketball in the same year Thursday afternoon after Justyn Mutts was whistled for a five-second inbound violation with 33 seconds remaining in the 2nd half.

The Hokies, at that point, were only up by six.

And after two consecutive free throws made by the Monarchs’ Dericko Williams from the foul, the lead was only four.

But Virginia Tech (4-0) barely squeaked by in a nailbiter, prevailing over Old Dominion (2-2) to win 75-71 in the Charleston Classic quarterfinals.

Virginia Tech got off to a poor start initially, being tied with Old Dominion at eight a piece six minutes into the first half. From there, however, the Hokies took control over the Monarchs to close out the next 14 minutes, leading 39-25 at the half. Sean Pedulla, Grant Basile and Darius Maddox all contributed heavily to the scoring in that time frame.

Unlike Sunday night, No Hokie would eclipse 20 points in scoring. Pedulla led Virginia Tech with 18 of his own, and sits first on the team in points per game, averaging 19.5. It was mainly his drives to the post and jumpers that amounted to his points in Charleston, as the point guard shot 7-15 from FG range and 2-5 from long range.

Four players would achieve double digit points for the Hokies: Basile finished with 15, Maddox 12, Mutts 11, and Cattoor 10.

However, the momentum started to swing in favor of Old Dominion in the second half, as slowly but surely, the Monarchs kept pace with the Hokies. After starting a measly 28.6% from FG range and 14.3% from three in the first half, the Monarchs turned on the jets in the second, shooting 52.8% below the arc and 41.7% from beyond.

Old Dominion - commanded by guard Chaunce Jenkins, who led all scorers with 24 points - would creep their way back into the game, and make their shots when Virginia Tech wasn’t. Rebounds would also be crucial, as the Monarchs out-rebounded the Hokies 46-32, and 18 of those grabs came offensively.

In the final two minutes of the second half, Virginia Tech’s longest lead was only seven points. Both teams would fight for dominance, and while the Hokies tried to stamp out the Monarchs, the Monarchs wouldn’t go down without a fight.

The Monarchs’ resilience came to a head for the Hokies late in the game. With eight seconds to go, Old Dominion’s Mekhi Long sank a deep 3-pointer to make it 73-71.

But although it was a nail-biter to the very end, the Hokies would prevail thanks to Hunter Cattoor’s clutch free throws in the final five seconds, and improve to 4-0 for the fifth year in a row.

Virginia Tech faces Penn State Friday at noon on ESPN2 in the Charleston Classic semifinals. This will be the Hokies’ first true test of the season, as the Nittany Lions are currently ranked 35th in KenPom’s rankings.