Head coach Mike Young proved to be the real deal as he coached Virginia Tech past No. 3 Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Maui Invitational. The team kept its composure throughout the full 40 minutes and above everything, proved it is a tough bunch. After Wabissa Bede was tested at the foul line down the stretch, the Hokies came away with a 71-66 upset this program will remember.
Strong shooting from behind the arc was once again the story for Tech. On the game it sunk 48% of its shots, going 10 for 21 with four Hokies contributing from the 3-point line.
The Hokies played tough on both sides of the court in the first half, holding a four-point lead after 20 minutes of play. It was a back-and-forth half of basketball with 11 lead changes. Virginia Tech was able to get points under the basket; Michigan State guarded the 3-point line tight, knowing 3-point shooting is the Hokies’ largest weapon.
All-American guard Cassius Winston picked up his second foul with just under 10 minutes left in the first half and was benched for the remainder. Freshman Rocket Watts came in for Michigan State to facilitate the offense, but he was not able to get the Spartans rolling. Turnovers proved to be a problem; Michigan State totaled 11 at the half, mostly from bad passes and traveling violations.
Hunter Cattoor stood out in the paint with a notable layup off a behind-the-back pass from Isaiah Wilkins. He picked up a few more layups and two 3-pointers and continues to prove to be an asset in all areas of play. He came up with 10 points and a couple important rebounds on the game.
Virginia Tech continued to bring maximum effort in the second half. The Spartans’ offense picked up, but the Hokies hung with them. Winston was back on the floor, but didn’t put up many points. The Hokies held him to just 7, compared to 17.5 points per game he has been averaging this season.
A wide open three from Nolley put Tech up 10 with 4:34 left. By one minute left to play, the Spartans cut their deficit to 1 point, thanks to some clutch perminder shooting. The Hokies had their work cut out for them.
Another 3-point shot from Nolley with 48 seconds left made it a two possession game, and Michigan State started to foul.
“It was a really good play that Coach drew up and I just came off the screen, executed it; it felt good,” Nolley said.
Bede was sent to the foul line three times throughout the remainder of the game. He shot 5 for 6 from the stripe and closed the door on the Spartans with every made shot.
Along with Cattoor, four other Hokies scored in double figures. Nolley put up 22 points, P.J. Horne had 12, Bede contributed 11 and Naheim Alleyne shot for 10.
Michigan State finished with 16, mainly careless, turnovers that resulted in 20 extra points for the Hokies. Tech’s defense was sharp throughout the whole game and victory could not have been achieved without the efforts of everyone.
“Great win for Virginia Tech” Young said. “But we got a lot more to look forward to.”
In the semifinals, Virginia Tech will take on Dayton, who beat Georgia 80-61 earlier that day. Both teams will battle to remain undefeated. The game will tip off at 8 p.m. on Nov. 26.