The Virginia Tech Hokies lost for the first time at home this season, falling 75-71 to the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night in Blacksburg.
The Hokies, playing without second-leading scorer Hunter Cattoor, controlled the game throughout the first half but managed only a one-point lead heading into halftime. Tech was outstanding defensively in the first 20 minutes, holding the Hurricanes to 35% from the floor. The issue for the Hokies was turnovers. Virginia Tech turned the ball over seven times in the first half.
Miami came out much sharper in the second half, quickly taking the lead and forcing the Hokies to play from behind. The two teams kept exchanging baskets, and every time it appeared the ‘Canes were about to take control, VT guard Sean Pedulla came up with a big bucket. Pedulla scored a game-high 33 points, giving him 91 points over the last three games. Pedulla shot 13 of 23 from the field and was five of 13 from beyond the arc.
With just over three minutes remaining, it appeared Miami was about to pull away, but sophomore guard MJ Collins drained a trey for the Hokies, cutting the Hurricanes’ lead to 66-64.
After a defensive stop, Collins is fouled, goes to the line, and makes both free throws, tying the game at 66.
The game shifted back in Miami’s favor on the next possession when freshman Kyshawn George drained a three with 2:18 remaining to make it 69-66. Those would prove to be the decisive points. Pedulla would score on the next possession, but Miami guard Nijel Pack answered to keep Miami’s lead at three points. After Collins missed on Tech’s next possession, Hurricanes forward Norchad Omier made a layup to give Miami a 73-68 lead with 44 seconds left.
With the Hurricanes up 74-68, Pedulla hit yet another 3-pointer to cut the lead to three points with 21 seconds remaining. Virginia Tech forced a turnover on George and had an opportunity to tie the game. However, Miami double-teamed Pedulla, who found Collins, but he missed a game-tying 3-point attempt with seven seconds remaining, and that was the ballgame.
That probably wasn’t the player head coach Mike Young wanted to take that shot, as Collins is only a 20% shooter from beyond the arc. Sure, he hit a critical trey earlier in the game, but if Pedulla wasn’t open, Nickel would’ve been the ideal player to take the potential game-tying shot.
Center Lynn Kidd struggled in the first half for the Hokies but, along with Pedulla, was essentially VT’s only offense in the final 20 minutes, scoring 14 of his 16 points after halftime.
The Hokies played pretty well for much of this game, considering they were without Cattoor. Tech outrebounded Miami, but the primary reason the Hokies fell short was turnovers. VT turned the ball over 15 times. As a team, Virginia Tech shot 48% from the floor, while the Hurricanes shot 47% from the field. However, Miami was red-hot in the second half, hitting over 60% of their field-goal attempts in the final 20 minutes.
The Hokies fall to 10-6 on the season and 2-3 in the ACC. They have a critical ACC game on Wednesday at Virginia, who also badly needs a win.