The Virginia Tech Hokies had an opportunity to begin the season with a 6-0 record and win the Charleston Classic on Sunday. All Tech had to do was get by the host school, the Charleston Cougars.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as Charleston guard Pat Robinson III nailed a jumper with three seconds remaining Sunday to lift the Cougars to a 77-75 win over the Hokies.
It was a disappointing ending for the Hokies, who trailed 35-30 heading into halftime. Tech struggled offensively in the first half, as senior forward Justyn Mutts was the only consistent player. Mutts scored 12 points and shot six of eight from the floor. However, the rest of the team made just eight of 26 shots from the field in the first. Even worse, Tech made only two of its 13 attempts from the 3-point line in the first half.
In the second half, though, the Hokies begin to take control. Sophomore guard Sean Pedulla turned things around, and the Hokies looked to be pulling away late. Tech’s biggest lead came at the 8:17 mark in the second half when freshman guard M.J. Collins’ layup gave the Hokies a 61-53 lead. But the Cougars kept fighting.
Robinson scored with over four minutes remaining to tie the game at 66. The Hokies then scored the next four points to take a 70-66 lead. Charleston kept battling, tying the game at 70 with two minutes left. On their next possession, Charleston’s Ante Brzovic drilled a 3-pointer, and the Cougars were up by three points. Virginia Tech guard Hunter Cattoor answered with a three to tie it with one minute left. Then, Brzovic and Cattoor exchanged baskets to make it 75-75 with 30 seconds remaining.
Robinson kept the ball at the top of the key and with less than 10 seconds remaining, drove to the hoop and scored relatively easily. Tech had one more chance with three seconds left, but Darius Maddox’s mid-court shot hit the rim and bounced off, giving the Hokies their first loss of the season.
This game was another instance where the Hokies were too reliant on the 3-point shot. It almost cost them against Penn State, but they held on late. For the game, the Hokies made only six of 27 attempts from beyond the arc.
Four Hokies were in double figures, led by Pedulla and Cattoor, who scored 17 points apiece. Mutts scored 16 for Virginia Tech and forward Grant Basile added 12 points.
Next up for the Hokies is Charleston-Southern on Friday night from Cassell Coliseum.