Justyn Mutts scored 18 points and threw down the game-winning dunk with 30 seconds remaining to help Virginia Tech slide past Notre Dame 67-64 in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Tuesday in Greensboro, N.C.
Grant Basile led the Hokies (19-13) with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, Sean Pedulla added 13 and Hunter Cattoor finished with 11 while hitting 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range.
Marcus Hammond scored a season-high 23 points and Cormac Ryan posted 18 for 14th-seeded Notre Dame (11-21) in head coach Mike Brey’s final game at the helm.
Brey steps away as Notre Dame’s all-time wins leader, compiling 483 victories throughout his 23-year tenure in South Bend.
Tied at 64, Mutts used a screen by and dribbled down the left side of an open lane to put the 11th-seeded Hokies ahead with his two-handed flush.
Rodney Rice swatted Ryan’s layup attempt on the other end and Notre Dame fouled to send Pedulla to the line with 10 seconds to play. Pedulla went 1 of 2 from the line, however, keeping it a one-possession game.
Nate Laszewski found a clean look from the right wing, but his 3-point attempt rolled off the rim as the buzzer sounded to cap a see-saw game that featured 16 lead changes.
Virginia Tech trailed 62-61 with just over a minute to play when Pedulla lost the handle on a behind-the-back dribble but hustled to steal the ball from Ryan on the other end.
As both teams scrambled, Pedulla found Mutts under the basket to put the Hokies ahead 63-62 with 1:02 to play.
Pedulla was initially whistled for a foul on the ensuing Notre Dame possession, but replay showed Matt Zona elbowed Pedulla in the face and bloodied his lip. Officials upheld the foul on Pedulla but charged Zona with a dead-ball technical.
Zona ultimately fouled out, so Trey Wertz knocked down two free throws in his place to put Notre Dame ahead.
Pedulla split the dead-ball technical free throws to knot the score at 64, setting up Mutts’ heroics.
The Hokies raced out to a 12-point lead in the first half, but the Fighting Irish heated up from beyond the arc and clawed back to 33-32 at the break, which set up a neck-and-neck second stanza.
Virginia Tech will face No. 6 seed N.C. State in the second round on Wednesday.
The Wolfpack edged Virginia Tech 73-69 in the teams’ only regular-season meeting on Jan. 7 in Blacksburg.
–Field Level Media