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Virginia Tech basketball: Hokies push Hurricanes but fall short in the end

Miami is undefeated at home this season.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies needed another signature win. And for a while on Tuesday night, it looked like the Hokies would get that win over the No. 20 Miami Hurricanes on the road. Unfortunately, Miami pulled away late, sending the Hokies [13-9, 3-8] back to Blacksburg with a 92-83 loss.

With the win, Miami [17-5, 8-4] improved to 12-0 at home this season.

It was a back-and-forth first half that saw the ‘Canes go into intermission with a 45-44 lead. It was a high-scoring game as both teams were red hot from the field.

In the second half, it appeared that the Hokies would take control. but one stretch — led by Miami guard Nijel Pack — ended any chance of Virginia Tech’s third consecutive win.

With over eight minutes remaining, the Hokies held onto a five-point lead. Pack was scoreless.

Then everything changed.

With around 7:30 remaining, Pack drilled a 3 to tie the game at 68. From that point forward, Pack hit his next six shots — five of them from beyond the arc — to sink the Hokies. Pack finished with 17 points, all of which came in the final eight minutes.

At one point, it appeared the Hokies could quell Pack’s momentum, as Hunter Cattoor made two free throws to tie the game back up at 76 with over four minutes remaining. Pack answered, of course, scoring the next eight points to give Miami an 84-76 lead that would hold until under the two-minute mark when Virginia Tech guard Sean Pedulla made two free throws.

The Hokies wouldn’t quit, though, as Pedulla was fouled from behind the 3-point line, making all three attempts to cut Miami’s lead to 87-83 with 26 seconds left. The Hurricanes made one of two free throws, but Pedulla turned it over, and Miami guard Isaiah Wong made two free throws to put the game out of reach for Tech.

While Virginia Tech finished the game shooting 57% from the field, the Hokies missed their final seven shots. Three of those misses were layups around the basket [two from Justyn Mutts and one from Grant Basile] that contributed to Tech’s woes.

Pedulla and Cattoor each scored 20 points for the Hokies, but Pedulla did turn the ball over six times. Basile scored 17 points and Mutts chipped in with 10 points.

The Hurricanes were even better from the field, shooting 58% from the field.

Head coach Mike Young will look back at this game and see the missed opportunities. The Hokies finished the game with 14 turnovers and 14 assists. Not making a field goal in the final four minutes and 57 seconds, including three layups, doomed Tech on Tuesday.

Next up for the Hokies is No. 6 Virginia in Blacksburg on Saturday.