BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Zach LeDay had 15 points and nine rebounds, and made several big shots down the stretch to help Virginia Tech beat Jacksonville State 71-62 on Wednesday.
LeDay scored just three points in the first half, but he started attacking the offensive glass in the second. He scored 12 points in the final 20 minutes, helping the Hokies bounce back from a season-opening loss to Alabama State last Saturday.
LeDay, a transfer from South Florida who sat out last season, hit 6 of 11 from the field and grabbed five offensive rebounds. It came on the heels of a 26-point, 15-rebound game against Alabama State.
”I just go out and play hard, and whatever happens, happens,” LeDay said. ”I don’t really play for stats or anything like that. I just want to get wins.”
Virginia Tech (1-1) led by as many as 12 in the second half, but Jacksonville State cut the lead to two on two occasions, the final time coming on a Jeremy Watson basket with 7:07 left.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. answered with a basket to spark Virginia Tech’s 7-0 run, but Jacksonville State’s Erik Durham made a 3-pointer with 2:40 remaining to cut the lead to 61-58.
LeDay scored inside for the Hokies with 2:07 left to push their lead to 63-58. Durham’s two free throws cut it to three, but LeDay scored inside, giving Virginia Tech a 65-60 lead with 1:35 remaining.
”I just let it come to me,” LeDay said. ”I was forcing it a little in the first half. I was going baseline and stuff like that, but in the second half, I calmed down and let it come to me.”
The Gamecocks (2-2) came up empty on their next possession, and Blackshear scored with 58 seconds left to seal it.
The game marked a contrast to the season opener when Virginia Tech allowed Alabama State to shoot 54 percent in the second half. Jacksonville State shot just 37.5 percent (24 of 64) and made just 10 baskets in the second half.
”The priority was defense and the priority was rebounding,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. ”The priority was keeping them off the offensive glass. I thought our effort was better, for sure.”
Freshman Chris Clarke, making his first start, added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Hokies and Justin Bibbs had 11 points. Virginia Tech missed 15 free throws and committed 17 turnovers, but had a 54-29 rebounding edge and scored 20 second-chance points.
Jacksonville State was led by Durham with 21 points.
Virginia Tech: Williams started Clarke and Justin Thompson, two freshmen, in place of Jalen Hudson and Seth Allen . Bibbs’ 3-pointer early in the game extended Virginia Tech’s streak of hitting at least one 3-pointer to 400 straight games – the longest streak in school history. . Clarke’s double-double is the first by a Virginia Tech freshman since Jan. 3, 2015 when Bibbs had 23 points and 11 rebounds against Syracuse.
Jacksonville State: Durham scored 12 points in the first half. He came into the game averaging 11.3 points . The Gamecocks had scored at least 81 points in each of their first three games . The Gamecocks went to the free throw line just eight times against Virginia Tech, while the Hokies went 30.
Jacksonville State travels to Winthrop on Friday.
Virginia Tech hosts VMI on Saturday.