ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Virginia Tech handled some late pressure to earn a big victory Saturday night.
The 13th-ranked Hokies withstood a second-half rally from Washington to earn a 73-61 win in the Air Force Reserve Boardwalk Classic.
Nickell Alexander-Walker scored 24 points for Virginia Tech (9-1), which won its fourth straight since a one-point loss at Penn State on Nov. 27. Kerry Blackshear, Justin Robinson and Ahmed Hill scored 10 points apiece.
“I wish our energy level would have been the same at Penn State as it was tonight,” Hokies coach Buzz Williams said. “I think we learned a lesson in this game. We had a much higher level of togetherness.”
Virginia Tech led 39-21 at halftime and seemed on the way to an easy win. Washington came out strong after intermission, however, and eventually pulled to 53-46 but could get no closer.
Matisse Thybulle scored 16 points to lead Washington (7-4). David Crisp scored 12 points, and Naz Carter had 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
“This was a great experience for us,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said. “We made the adjustments that we needed to make, but we can’t wait 20 minutes to figure that out.”
Virginia Tech shot 42.9 percent from the field and a swarming defense limited Washington to 36.9 percent while forcing 15 turnovers.
Whenever the Hokies needed a big basket, Alexander-Walker delivered it.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Toronto repeatedly quelled Washington’s surges with key shots.
“When we face adversity, we know how to handle it,” Alexander-Walker said. “We handle it together instead of separating and getting tense when things don’t go our way.”
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are playing with a lot of confidence since the one-point loss at Penn State.
Washington: Since being ranked No. 25 early last month, the Huskies haven’t been able to gain any momentum with a signature win. Three of their four losses have come against teams that were ranked in the top 15 at the time.
Washington heads back home to Seattle to face Sacramento State (6-2) on Friday.
Virginia Tech will try for its fifth straight win on Wednesday when it takes on North Carolina A&T (4-6).