The Virginia Tech Hokies improved to 5-0 on the season with a 61-59 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic.
The Hokies never trailed in this game as senior guard Hunter Cattoor opened the scoring on the first possession of the game with a 3-pointer. Tech dominated the first half, leading by as many as 16 points and consistently held a 10-point lead throughout the first half before going into halftime with a 37-29 lead.
However, the Nittany Lions, who employ a lineup of four guards, were scrappy and clawed back behind the shooting of senior guards Andrew Funk and Myles Dread. Funk scored 18 points and Dread scored 15, as the pair combined to hit 10 of 22 from beyond the arc. Their outside shooting is what kept PSU in the game, as the Nittany Lions converted on 11 of their 30 attempts from 3-point range.
Much of that success came in the second half as anytime it seemed like the Hokies were pulling away, Funk or Dread would drill a three and cut Tech’s lead down to two possessions.
Fortunately for Virginia Tech, senior forward Grant Basile provided a low-post presence Penn State had no answer for, as Basile scored 17 points to lead the Hokies. Basile, who had done most of his damage from beyond the arc in Tech’s first four games, showed a different side to his game against Penn State. Basile proved to be a bully in the post, and head coach Mike Young felt it was an area of PSU’s defense to exploit. Many of Basile’s points came in the second half with him backing down Penn State defenders to the basket.
Junior guard Darius Maddox scored 11 for the Hokies, hitting several clutch baskets throughout the game. Justyn Mutts scored 10 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and dished out five assists, while point guard Sean Pedulla scored also scored 10, despite going five of 13 from the field, including missing all six of his 3-point attempts.
As a team, Virginia Tech shot 44.8% from the floor but made just three of 19 from beyond the arc. It was good for the Hokies to win a game without relying too much on their outside shooting.
Cattoor had another quiet game, scoring only three points.
Penn State got the lead down to two points twice with under a minute remaining and had a chance to tie or win with less than 10 seconds remaining when Camren Wynter drove to the basket, losing control of the basketball. The play was well-defended by the Hokies.
The Hokies now move to the finals of the Charleston Classic, which will be held Sunday afternoon, where they’ll play the host, College of Charleston.