SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- After blowing a nine-point lead in a loss to Maryland last week, Notre Dame flirted with another collapse Sunday night.
The Irish led by 15 at the halftime, but Virginia Tech whittled the deficit to two midway through the second half. This time, though, Notre Dame came away with a 70-63 victory.
Guard Pat Connaughton scored 21 points and made two critical 3-pointers with the outcome in doubt, fueling the Irish to an Atlantic Coast Conference win.
Notre Dame (11-7, 2-3 ACC) ended a three-game skid. The Hokies (8-9, 1-4) lost their fourth consecutive game.
"It's just a matter of getting stops," Connaughton said. "Each team in this league can beat anybody. We just had to weather the storm. We learned from Maryland.
"As much as you don't like to learn from a loss, you do learn from losses. Today, we were able to dig down and get the stops we weren't able to get (Wednesday) at Maryland. It was nice to see us bounce back."
Notre Dame had trouble contending with Virginia Tech big man Cardarian Raines, who shared team-high scoring honors with freshman guard Devin Wilson. They finished with 20 points apiece. Hokies forward C.J. Barksdale added 12 points.
"At halftime, I told our guys the first five minutes were going to be very important," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "We were going to see what type of team this is going to be. This is a team that has a lot of heart."
The Hokies shot 63 percent (15 of 24) in the second half to make it a game.
"We really tried to punch the ball inside," Wilson said. "We thought that we had to get a couple fouls on (Irish center Garrick) Sherman."
Virginia Tech outscored Notre Dame 36-28 in the paint.
Irish guard Demetrius Jackson scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half. Guard Eric Atkins added 12 points for Notre Dame.
"We'll really have to focus on the defensive side of the ball," Atkins said. That's what we did today all game to some good results."
Irish coach Mike Brey, comparing the win to the Maryland game, said, "We were better with the ball (against Virginia Tech). We only had 10 turnovers (Sunday after committing 17 turnovers against Maryland). We had some really bad turnovers (against the Terps).
"The other key was (Virginia Tech) only got eight offensive rebounds. Maryland got 20. Those two areas, we were better at."
Connaughton and guard Steve Vasturia drained 3-pointers to bump the Irish's lead from two points to eight with about eight minutes to play. A steal by Vasturia and layup by Atkins pushed the advantage to 63-53 with just over four minutes left.
The Hokies scored the next three points, but Connaughton's 3-pointer with 2:29 remaining restored Notre Dame's 10-point lead.
Guard Devin Wilson connected with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull Virginia Tech within 53-50 with 10:15 to go. A little later, Wilson hit a free throw to cut the difference to two.
Virginia Tech needed a little more than five minutes to shave 11 points off Notre Dame's halftime lead. The Hokies closed the gap with an 18-7 spurt to start the second half. Notre Dame's big men had trouble dealing with Raines, who produced seven points in the run.
The Irish answered with a 3-pointer by Vasturia and a steal and a layup by forward Zach Auguste to boost the lead back to nine with about 12 minutes to play.
Notre Dame's perimeter game was dominant during the first half.
Connaughton and Jackson scored 11 first-half points each to lead the Irish to a 15-point advantage. Irish forward Garrick Sherman added six of his eight points and all six of his rebounds before the break. Jackson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put an exclamation point on an impressive 20 minutes for the Irish.
Raines, a 6-foot-9, 238-pound forward, came off the bench to keep the Hokies within striking distance. His nine points were a big part of Virginia Tech's 13-4 first-half edge in bench points.
Notre Dame's 20-14 first-half lead on the boards kept the Hokies from causing too much damage.
Virginia Tech rallied to finish with a 35-30 rebounding edge.