It’s been a dream season for the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt has remained atop the ACC for much of this season after finishing the past six seasons with a losing record. As for Virginia Tech, this has been a season of disappointment. The Hokies entered Saturday’s game against the Panthers with a 15-11 record and a 5-10 mark in ACC play.
On Saturday, the Hokies showed what they were capable of in a 79-72 victory over Pittsburgh at Cassell Coliseum.
The Hokies dominated the first half, leading 41-30 at intermission. Virginia Tech’s defense was outstanding in the first half, limiting the Panthers to 1 3-pointer on six attempts. Tech’s defense was aggressive on the perimeter after being burned multiple times this season by hot-shooting teams.
In the second half, things started ominously when senior forward Grant Basile picked up his third foul only 1:13 into the second half. Fortunately for the Hokies, junior forward Mylyjael Poteat came off the bench with an impressive performance. Poteat played 20 minutes, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds. Poteat made converted an impressive seven of nine from the free-throw line.
Basile made an impact, though, leading all scorers with 22 points. It was his fourth consecutive game of scoring 20 points or more. Basile made eight of 13 from the field, including four of eight from beyond the arc. Basile and Poteat were two of five Hokies who scored in double figures. Justyn Mutts, Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor all scored 12 points.
Tech’s defense maintained its excellent in the second half, holding the Panthers to two made 3-pointers in 12 attempts, making Pitt three of 18 from beyond the arc. A big reason for Pitt’s offensive success this season was its ability from deep. VT held the Panthers to 17% from 3-point range.
The Hokies shot 56% from the floor, and made nine of 19 from 3-point range.
While it was an impressive win, it almost feels a little too late for the Hokies. Had Virginia Tech beaten Boston College and Georgia Tech over the last couple of weeks, the Hokies would be riding a five-game winning streak and 8-8 in ACC play. Instead, they sit at 6-10 in league play with four games remaining. Tech’s next two games are tough, with a home game against No. 15 Miami, followed by a trip to Duke.
When the Hokies are hot, they can beat anyone. Unfortunately, they’ve been more cold than hot since ACC play began. Is winning out possible? Sure. Is it likely? No. Virginia Tech does have some impressive wins on its resume, but also some ugly losses.
Also, kudos to head coach Mike Young and the Hokies for welcoming young Chase O’Brien and celebrating with him.