BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team turned in one of its worst shooting performances of the season Wednesday.
But the Hokies still won.
So coach Mike Young was relieved after Tech rallied to beat Chattanooga 63-58 late Wednesday night at Cassell Coliseum.
“It is not always easy to load that gun and play your best night in and night out,” Young said after the win. “We didn’t play our best game.
“Made enough plays to get out.”
Virginia Tech entered the game ranked second in the ACC in field-goal percentage (47.9%) but shot just 39% from the field Wednesday.
“We didn’t move very well,” Young said. “We looked like we were so slow and heavy.
“It is unrealistic to think that your team is going to play like gangbusters night in and night out. We had a tough night.”
It was Tech’s worst shooting percentage since shooting 38.6% from the field in a season-opening 67-60 win at Clemson.
“[Chattanooga] had a good game plan,” said Tech point guard Wabissa Bede, who had seven points and seven assists. “They wanted us to shoot forced 2s [2-point baskets] mid-range, and we did that.
“It seems like it’s open, you think you can make it all the time, but it’s a hard shot. … You’re wondering why you’re always missing it and you keep shooting it.”
Young said the Hokies (7-3) took “far too many contested 2s.”
“You don’t want to take a contested 2 with 20 [seconds still] on the shot clock. That’s a bad shot,” Young said. “I thought we settled for some of those instead of moving the ball side to side.
“We just weren’t very crisp. … That was as poor as we’ve played. Didn’t shoot it very well.”
The Hokies entered the game ranked fourth nationally with an average of 11.3 3-pointers but were just 6 of 21 from 3-point range Wednesday (28.6%).
“We tried to … make guys manufacture 3s for themselves, which is not how they get them,” Mocs coach Lamont Paris said. “They move well, they pass the ball well, they identify when guys are open, right? So we wanted guys to have to manufacture their own shots. So when they did that, those are tougher shots than rhythm shots.
“There weren’t too many stand-still, catch-and-shoot 3s.”
It was Tech’s second straight poor outing from long range. In last week’s 77-63 loss to Duke, Tech shot a season-low 25% from 3-point territory (5 of 20).
“We’re not going to stop shooting them,” Young said.
Paris said the Mocs (6-5) focused on trying to keep Landers Nolley and P.J. Horne from making 3-pointers.
Nolley had 19 points but was 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
Horne had just two points. He was 1 of 6 from the field, including 0 of 3 from 3-point range. Young said Horne did not feel well Wednesday.
Tech played without reserve guard Hunter Cattoor, who entered the game ranked fourth on the squad with 16 3-pointers. Young said Cattoor had an ankle injury but could have played.
The Hokies, who snapped a three-game skid, were held under 64 points for the third time in the last four games. Tech scored a season-low 62 points in its loss to Dayton in the Maui Invitational.
“We came out slow [Wednesday]. I didn’t like the vibe,” Bede said. “We’ve got to come out better because when we get [back] to conference play it’s going to be a lot harder to come back like that.”
Tech trailed 51-47 with 5:23 to go but scored nine straight points to take the lead for good.
“I told them at the timeout, I was trying to trick them a little bit. I said, ‘We need this. We need to find ways to win close games.’ We’re going to have too many of them moving ahead,” Young said.
Tech freshman Nahiem Alleyne and Bede each made a 3-pointer in the final five minutes, while Tyrece Radford had a layup. Alleyne and Nolley went a combined 8 of 9 from the free-throw line in the final five minutes.
“We just knew we didn’t want to be on the other end,” Bede said. “We didn’t want to have four [losses] in a row.”
The Mocs cut the lead to 61-58, but Alleyne made two free throws with 5.2 seconds left to seal the win.
Was the freshman nervous at the free-throw line?
“I’m never nervous,” said Alleyne, who had a career-high 22 points.