Virginia Tech arrived at the summit of its ACC Tournament climb Saturday night inside the Barclays with an 82-67 defeat of top-seeded Duke in the tournament finals.
Hunter Cattoor picked a fortuitous time to have the best game of his career. The junior sharpshooter scored 31 points, hitting seven of nine shots from beyond the arc.
Virginia Tech led for over 30 minutes of the championship game, mirroring the domination that it showed throughout much of the tournament. In the course of the game, the Hokies repeated the elite shooting performance that had carried them to the finals.
Cattoor and Keve Aluma , who had 19 points, were a handful for the Blue Devil defense.
Elite 3-point shooting aside, the Hokies reached the championship contest by bringing intensity to all aspects of its game, specifically defense. Throughout the game, the Hokies matched the outsized Duke front court on the boards, pulling down 37 rebounds to Duke’s 36. The Hokies generated 10 turnovers and turned them into 14 points.
On Thursday and Friday, Virginia Tech took the floor against higher-seeded opposition in Notre Dame and North Carolina, but the experienced Hokie squad weathered all that the Fighting Irish and the Tar Heels threw at them.
The Hokies’ run was a reflection of the squad that made it. In a team that featured the same starting lineup all season – a lineup composed of four players that weren’t even committed to play high-major college hoops – consistency won games.
Saturday night, both teams began by shooting lights out, heading into the first media timeout a combined 11-15 from the floor with the Hokies leading 14-12. But after that, Virginia Tech went five minutes and 49 seconds without scoring until Hunter Cattoor drove for a layup. Cattoor shot 5 for 7 from the field in the first half, accumulating 17 points.
Tech’s lead grew to as many as seven points before finishing the first half with a 42-39 lead..
The Hokies came out firing again in the second half, specifically Cattoor, who scored nine of Tech’s first 13 points in the half. The teams traded baskets once Virginia Tech assumed an eight-point lead with fouls becoming more commonplace as the half pwent on.
Cattoor continued to provide points while Justyn Mutts and Keve Aluma made plays on both ends of the floor. Nahiem Alleyne and Storm Murphy were poised under pressure and contributed as Tech pulled away in the last half for the 82-67 win.
The win marked Tech’s first ACC Tournament championship and the program’s first tournament crown since winning the Metro trophy in 1979.
Cattoor’s 11 field goals and seven 3-pointers were both single-game records for Tech players in the ACC Tournament.