BLACKSBURG, Va. — Norfolk State Coach Anthony Evans walked into Cassell Coliseum on Sunday afternoon confident that stopping Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, Erick Green, would be the key to scoring an upset on the road.
The only problem is the Spartans forgot to account for forward Jarell Eddie. The sophomore from Charlotte made them pay. Behind Eddie’s career-high 24 points, the Hokies defeated Norfolk State, 73-60, and now get six days off to focus on finals week.
Virginia Tech (7-3) did not trail in the second half as Green returned to the starting lineup after a one-game benching for disciplinary reasons and added 12 points. But if not for Eddie, the victory would not have seemed so easy.
Playing power forward this year due to the season-ending knee injury suffered by senior JT Thompson, Eddie hit five of six three-pointers and also grabbed seven rebounds.
He helped the Hokies pull away from the Spartans (6-4) after a sluggish start.
Norfolk State jumped to a 7-2 lead but Eddie put Virginia Tech ahead for good when he scored 12 points during a scorching six-minute stretch to end the first half. He hit his first shot of the game — a three-pointer to cut the Hokies’ deficit to one — and followed with a four-point play in which he was fouled while hitting another three-pointer.
He soon hit two more free throws and gave Virginia Tech a five-point lead heading into halftime with a third three-pointer on the final possession of the half.
Eddie iced the contest in the second half as Virginia Tech clung to a seven-point lead with less than three minutes to go. After a three-point miss by Norfolk State’s Chris McEachin (team-high 18 points, eight rebounds), Eddie hit his fifth three-pointer of the game to give the Hokies a double-digit cushion.
Eddie’s performance was notable not just because it was his second straight strong showing — the other was a 15-point effort at Rhode Island last Wednesday. In the Hokies’ two losses this month, to Minnesota and Kansas State, Eddie scored just four points and went 1 for 5 from the field in both games.
“Maybe I was a little riled up, sped up a little bit, because of the defense and the atmosphere we were in,” said Eddie. “But tonight, I was just comfortable. I was ready to shoot the ball whenever it came to me. . . . The three-point line is my spot.”
Outside of Eddie’s marksmanship, though, the rest of the Hokies shot just 38 percent from the field.
Coach Seth Greenberg, meanwhile, lamented that his team’s on-ball defense is “awful right now.” But Virginia Tech dominated rebounds, with 16 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.
The catalyst once again was sophomore Cadarian Raines.
He finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. All but one of his rebounds came on the offensive end. Perhaps more significantly, it was the second straight game in which Greenberg played Raines more than he played slumping starter Victor Davila.
Davila scored six points and received only 13 minutes Sunday after registering one point and two rebounds combined in the Hokies’ previous two games.