Miami Edges Tech 74-71

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Virginia Tech dropped a tough home game to Miami 74-71 on Saturday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies fell behind by double digits in the second half, rallied, but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game. Tech dropped to 14-10 overall and 5-5 in the ACC with the loss. Miami is now 16-7, with a 3-6 conference record.

Virginia Tech out-shot Miami and committed just 14 turnovers to Miami’s 18. However the Hokies were soundly beaten on the boards 35-20, and that was the difference in the game. Heading into Saturday, Tech was #2 in the ACC in rebounding margin in conference games, while Miami was #3.

Miami’s rebounding margin helped lead to more free throws for the ‘Canes, who were 21-of-25 from the charity stripe. The Hokies were just 8-of-12. Tech and Miami were both 7-of-16 from three-point range for 43.8%.

Besides three-point shooting, the Hokies shot very well overall from the field. Tech was 28-of-51 for the game for 54.9%. In the second half alone they were 17-of-27, good for 63%. After out-rebounding opponents in 10 consecutive games, the Hokies have been out-rebounded in their last two.

A.D. Vassallo scored a season-high 24 points, 19 of which came in the second half. He was 9-of-15 from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point range. He also had three assists and a steal in 37 minutes of action.

Jeff Allen added 16 points and seven rebounds for Tech. He was 7-of-8 from the field, including a three-pointer. Allen also added three steals and a block in 39 minutes of action. J.T. Thompson, who started on the inside with Allen for Tech, added 10 points.

Tech has counted on strong efforts on the boards from Vassallo, Deron Washington and Thompson. So far this year they have gotten it, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday. Those three players, who are combining for 18.1 rebounds per game in ACC play, combined for just five against Miami.

Washington, his strength sapped somewhat by flu-like symptoms, had just nine points and two rebounds in 37 minutes, and didn’t make any of the energy plays that he is known for.

This game started off well for the Hokies, who jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead by the 16:23 mark on an A.D. Vassallo three-pointer. At the 14:29 mark Deron Washington drove and dished the ball to Jeff Allen for an easy dunk, making it 12-6. After a layup by J.T. Thompson and a jumper from Washington, the Hokies led 16-10 with 12:11 remaining in the half.

That was a good start offensively for Tech. They were hitting jumpers, getting it down low for dunks, and Vassallo knocked down his first three-pointer, which is always a good sign. However, Tech went over five minutes without scoring after Washington’s jumper. The drought was finally broken by a Jeff Allen three-pointer with 6:57 left in the half, but that only tied the game at 19. The scoring slump allowed Miami to get back into the game.

After Allen’s three-pointer, Tech only scored seven more points the rest of the half. Fortunately they played very good defense and only trailed 28-26 heading into halftime.

The second half was much more fast paced than the first half, with both teams scoring at a good clip. However, Miami did a better job early in the half and jumped out to a 10 point lead, 48-38, on a free throw by Brian Asbury with 11:57 remaining in the game.

However the Hokies fought back quickly, going on a 9-2 run over the next few minutes. A three-pointer by Vassallo cut Miami’s lead to 50-47, and it looked like Tech was coming from behind yet again. However Miami took the momentum back on their next possession. Jack McClinton missed a jumper, but Jimmy Graham grabbed the offensive rebound, and McClinton got another chance. This time he was true, nailing a three-pointer to take the lead back to six points.

Miami gradually increased their lead again. They were up 65-55 with 4:15 remaining, and led 68-61 with 42 seconds remaining. However, Tech still had a shot. They trailed 74-71 with just over two seconds remaining, and were inbounding from the opposite end of the court. Tech threw a hail mary, and it bounced off a Miami player out of bounds with still over a second left in the game.

The Hokies had a chance to inbound and get off a good look at a three-pointer. Unfortunately they had no timeouts remaining, and although they tried to get the ball in to Vassallo, Miami double-teamed him and funneled the inbounds pass to Deron Washington. Washington’s three-pointer bounced off the front of the rim, and Miami left Blacksburg with a one-possession win.

Tech takes the rest of the week off before returning to action next Saturday at North Carolina. Tip-off is scheduled for 1pm, and the game will be televised nationally by CBS.

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