BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Ahmed Hill thought it was a perfect way to end the nonconference portion of No. 10 Virginia Tech’s schedule.
Hill scored 20 points and the Hokies shot nearly 66 percent as they drubbed Maryland-Eastern Shore 85-40 on Friday night for their sixth consecutive victory.
“It’s really good for my confidence,” Hill said after making 7 of 10 shots overall and 6 of 9 3-point tries. “I just go game to game. Some games, shots fall and some games not, and today it was falling.”
Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 15 points and Wabissa Bede scored 14 for the Hokies (11-1), who continued their best start to a season in 100 years. Things will get appreciably more difficult going forward as they begin Atlantic Coast Conference play on Tuesday against Notre Dame, but coming out of a brief holiday break with a dominating performance was “a good tune-up,” Hill said.
“It’s just good to play a game before real games start on the first,” he said.
The Hawks (1-13) were led by Dontae Caldwell with 10 points as they lost their eighth in a row and 30th consecutive game on the road.
The Hokies played without scoring leader Nickeil Alexander-Walker (18.5 points per game) because of a sprained right ankle, but didn’t need him as Hill and Blackshear got them started and pretty much everyone else joined in. All eight players coach Buzz Williams put on the floor in the first half scored before the break, when they led 50-22 after shooting 73.9 percent (17-23) overall and making 11 of 16 3-point tries (68.8 percent).
“They can have those type of games if you don’t understand how to get out there and truly compete,” first-year Hawks coach Clifford Reed said. “We’ve had a couple of these games against ACC opponents and so just (we need to be able to) step up to where you compete at a really high level so some of those shots don’t go in.”
For the game, the Hokies were 29 for 44 (65.9 percent) from the field and 14 for 26 on 3-pointers (53.8 percent). The Hawks finished 13 for 44 (29.5 percent).
Virginia Tech also set a school record with its 24th consecutive home victory in nonconference play. They had won 23 in a row on three occasions.
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One of the assistants for UMES is Adrian Custis, known in Blacksburg as “Ace.” He played for the Hokies from 1993-97 and had his No. 20 jersey retired by the school in 1997. He led Virginia Tech to the 1995 NIT championship and finished with 1,706 points (13.9 per game) and 1,177 rebounds (9.6).
Five Hokies made 3-pointers, including one by Blackshear for the first points of the game. After the basket, Williams called a timeout, which he acknowledged is not a conventional response.
“The reason KJ made that shot playing the four for us is because the ball went from side to side and came back to the side and it made the defense rotate and we turned down two good shots and it turned into a perfect shot,” he said. “I wanted them to go ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. We did right and that’s why it worked.’”
UMES: The Hawks haven’t won on the road since they beat Delaware State on Feb. 25, 2017. They came into the game being outshot 46.5 percent to 36.8 percent overall and 35.2 percent to 27 percent on 3-pointers, and those figures only got worse in Cassell Coliseum.
Virginia Tech: The rout was the Hokies’ third this season against a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Williams said he always likes to schedule a weak opponent after finals and another one after Christmas.
UMES: The Hawks return home to face Chestnut Hill on Monday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies open Atlantic Coast Conference play at home against Notre Dame on New Year’s Day.