Virginia Tech Can't Find Win in Coral Gables, Fall to No. 23 Miami
With time winding down in the second half, Justyn Mutts attempted to throw down a dunk to cut Miami’s lead to five in a game that was falling out of the Hokies’ hands.
Instead, the Hurricanes’ Norchad Omier blocked the graduate student’s one-handed slam. It bounced over to Bensley Joseph, who dished it to a streaking Wooga Poplar, and without any contention, he slammed home a ferocious dunk off the fast break that crushed any hope the Hokies had at a comeback. An already in-awe Watsco Center exploded in uproar for the home team.
Two seconds later the whistle blew, and 92-83 is the final score from Florida. It was a game that Virginia Tech (13-9, 3-8 ACC) had in their grasp to win but could not reach over No. 23 Miami (17-5, 8-4 ACC), and would have been their first road victory of the season. Instead, the Hokies are now 0-7 away from the confines of Cassell Coliseum, and yet another quadrant one win in the NET Rankings slipped away from Virginia Tech.
Overall, the game was tight. Before Miami’s final two points in the last two seconds, neither team led by more than eight points, and the two tied nine times throughout the game. Heading into the first half, Miami only led by one point, as the score was 46-45.
Through the first twenty minutes, both teams were shooting relatively well. Virginia Tech was 17-of-27 (63%) from the floor and 4-of-7 (57.1%) from 3-point range, while Miami was 18-of-30 (60%) and 3-of-9 (33.3%) in those same categories.
The two teams kept up with each other's pace, and continued to battle from the start of the second half until the final five minutes. In the last 4:55, the Hokies struggled connecting with the basket, and missed all of their seven field goal shots. The nine points they scored in that time frame came from free throws shot by Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla.
While Virginia Tech was dealing with shooting woes, Miami was running hot thanks to Nijel Pack. Shooting 3-of-4 – with two of those being from beyond the arc – he put the Hurricanes up 85-78, and the rest of Miami’s points came from the charity stripe and the jam by Wooga Poplar in the waning seconds.
By the final whistle, Virginia Tech was 29-of-51 (56.9%) in field goal attempts and 7-of-17 (41.2%) from long-range. Miami shot 35-of-60 (58.3%) from the floor, and 8-of-19 (42.1%) from deep. Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla tied at 20 points to lead the scorers for Virginia Tech, and Grant Basile had 17.
The Hokies also had trouble stopping the Hurricanes in transition: 22 of Miami’s points came from the fast break. Virginia Tech was also out-rebounded by Miami 27-to-21 and committed more turnovers with 14 compared to the Hurricanes’ 11.
Next up for Virginia Tech is No. 6 Virginia Saturday in Blacksburg. The Cavaliers, who sit second in the ACC behind Clemson, defeated the Hokies the first time the two met in Charlottesville 78-68, and are on a seven-game win streak. Tipoff is slated for 12 p.m., and coverage can be found on ESPN2. The game is a Maroon Out for those attending.