Virginia Tech defeats Grambling State 87-52 on big finish

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Justin Bibbs came into Virginia Tech's game ranked second nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage.

He certainly did nothing to hurt those numbers.

Bibbs scored a career-high 31 points to lift Virginia Tech to an 87-52 victory over Grambling State on Saturday.

Bibbs hit 10 of 14 from the floor, including 7 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc, tying the school record for 3-pointers in a game. He came into the game with a 3-point percentage of 62.5 percent (25 of 40), and has bumped that average to 64 percent (32 of 50) on the season.

''I'm just staying focused,'' Bibbs said. ''I'm always getting in the gym and getting shots up, just working on my game. As a team, we need to keep working together.''

The Hokies (8-3) led just 40-37 after Grambling State's Chase Cormier hit a 3-pointer with 18 minutes remaining. But Virginia Tech went on a 27-4 run over the next nine minutes to take control. Bibbs scored 17 of the 27, hitting three 3-pointers in that run.

Grambling State (2-9) hit just 2 of 13 from the floor and committed 12 turnovers during that nine-minute span.

''They just wore us down,'' Grambling State coach Shawn Walker said. ''I thought mentally, when you have a team that hasn't won, you start looking at the score. I wish we could have gone through halftime without stopping. They showed us a little pressure in the frontcourt and it discombobulated us and took us out of rhythm, and the 3's that we gave up just buried us.''

Grambling State only trailed 35-32 at halftime after a first half in which it shot 50 percent (14 of 28). The Tigers hit 4 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc, and Nigel Ribeiro's 3-pointer at the buzzer left the Tigers down three at halftime. Ribeiro scored 13 points in the half, including three 3-pointers.

But the Tigers couldn't overcome their 24 turnovers – 15 in the second half. They shot just 30 percent in the second half (7 of 23).

Virginia Tech shot 45.8 percent from the floor (33 of 72) and hit a season-high 10 3-pointers. Zach LeDay scored 14 points for the Hokies, while Seth Allen added 13 and Kerry Blackshear, Jr. 11.

The Hokies won their fourth straight game, though their strength of schedule increases from here on out.

''I wish that I had more conclusive evidence,'' Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said when asked how good his team was. ''I told our team, `Look at who we were in the first half and look at who we were in the second half. That's the sign of an immature team.'

''So which team are we? Or are we just going to continue to go up and down? If we continue to go up and down, then we'll be average at best. I wish I had more conclusive evidence. I think we're beginning to have more good possessions on both ends of the floor. I think we're stringing together more good possessions. As the schedule turns, we're going to have to do a lot better.''

The Tigers were led by Ribeiro, who scored 15 points.

TIP-INS

Grambling State: The game was a homecoming of sorts for Ribeiro, who is from Chesapeake, Virginia, which is five hours from Blacksburg. . Ribeiro scored just two points in the second half and hit just 1 of 4 from the floor.

Virginia Tech: Bibbs' seven 3-pointers equaled the school record held by Malcolm Delaney (vs. North Carolina on Jan. 13, 2011). … Blackshear, Jr., grabbed 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double. … Allen made his first start since starting the season opener. … Allen scored in double figures for the seventh straight game. … Walk-on Matt Galloway made the first start of his career. Galloway had played in just three games this season prior to Saturday night. … Chris Clarke did not play in the game because of an illness. … The Hokies moved to 2-1 on the season against teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference and are now 4-1 all-time versus teams from the SWAC.

UP NEXT

Grambling State plays at home on Jan. 2 against Alabama A&M.

Virginia Tech takes on St. Joseph's in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday.