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Virginia Tech basketball: Hokies drop a heartbreaker to South Carolina, 79-77

The Hokies are 1-1 on the season after losing to South Carolina

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Second Round - NC State vs Virginia Tech Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies fell to 1-1 on the season after Friday’s 79-77 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.

After an early lead, South Carolina took over midway through the first half and went into halftime holding a 38-31 lead.

In the second half, the Gamecocks continued their hot shooting, as every time the Hokies would rally, South Carolina would have an answer to keep the Hokies within arm’s reach. However, Virginia Tech guard Sean Pedulla was a one-man show for the Hokies in the final 20 minutes, scoring 22 of his 26 points in the second half.

While S.C. maintained its lead throughout the half, Pedulla was fouled on a 3-point attempt with around 3:30 remaining. He made all three free throws, giving Tech a 72-69 lead, its first since it was 15-13 in the first half.

Unfortunately for Tech, defense was a problem all night, and the Gamecocks, specifically senior guard Myles Stute, always had an answer. The ‘Cocks would score eight of the next nine points to take a 77-73 lead. VT center Lynn Kidd scored close to the hoop to put the Hokies within two points. After a defensive stand, forward Mylyjael Poteat scored to tie the game with 38 seconds remaining.

After a South Carolina timeout, B.J. Mack scores to put USC back up 79-77 with 20 seconds left.

The Hokies call timeout with 15 seconds remaining.

How did they respond? Pedulla dribbled the ball for a few seconds, looking for a three, but did not pull the trigger, catching him in an awkward position. Hunter Cattoor came to help, and they fumbled the exchange, leading to a jump ball. The possession arrow was in favor of the Gamecocks, and with two seconds left, that was enough for South Carolina to come away with the win.

There’s no way around this; that’s a brutal loss for the Hokies. These are the types of games that haunt you in March.

Pedulla’s 26 points led all scorers. He shot seven of 13 from the field, including three of seven from beyond the arc, and made nine of his 11 free-throw attempts. Cattoor chipped in with 13 points, while Kidd had 12 points and six rebounds.

Stute led the Gamecocks with 21 points, and Mack was right behind him with 19.

Tech is back in action on Wednesday as it hosts Campbell from Cassell Coliseum.