Virginia Tech’s best players picked the wrong game to have a bad shooting day. The Hokies got off to a good start, but went cold in the second half and lost to #12 seed Miami 70-65 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.
Malcolm Delaney, who shot 50% from the field and 47% from three-point range over the final three games of the regular season, suffered through one of the worst games of his career on Friday. He was just 3-of-8 from the field, and 0-of-8 from three-point range. The usually reliable Delaney was also only 1-of-3 from the free throw line.
Dorenzo Hudson got Tech off to a good start. The Hokies led 22-12 at the 12:25 mark of the first half when Hudson nailed a jumper, giving him 13 points in less than eight minutes. However, he suddenly went cold and only scored three points the rest of the game. He finished 5-of-16 from the field and 2-of-6 from three-point range. He made his first two three-pointers, and then missed his last six.
Jeff Allen and Terrell Bell were Tech’s only offense in the second half. Allen finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and three steals before fouling out in 30 minutes of action. Bell scored 12 points and was 4-of-9 from three-point range. He also had three assists, two steals and no turnovers. J.T. Thompson added 10 points and three rebounds.
After crushing Miami on the boards in the last two ACC Tournaments, the Hokies were whipped in the rebounding column by the Canes on Friday. Miami outrebounded Tech 46-29. Victor Davila had no points and just one rebound in 17 minutes of action. The Hokies were +10 in turnover margin, but not even that could overcome an awful shooting game from their top two scorers and such a disadvantage on the boards.
Virginia Tech got off to a hot start in this game, draining a trio of three-pointers by the 14:29 mark of the first half. Dorenzo Hudson was also fouled while shooting a three-pointer in that span, and he nailed all three free throws. Hudson’s jumper at the 12:25 mark put Tech up 22-12, and it looked like they were going to roll.
However, that hot shooting soon went cold. Tech hit just three three-pointers the rest of the game, all from Terrell Bell. Miami’s 2-3 zone successfully kept Malcolm Delaney out of the lane – he attempted just three three throws on the day – and he had a terrible shooting game, which meant the Hokies couldn’t beat the zone by shooting over it.
Miami kept chipping away at Tech’s lead for most of the half, and finally took their first lead with 33-32 on a three-pointer from power forward Cyrus McGowan. McGowan’s three-pointer was just his second against ACC competition this season.
Tech fought back, and Jeff Allen scored the final four points of the half to give the Hokies a 37-35 lead going into the intermission. However, Miami was very confident coming off their blowout victory against #5 seed Wake Forest, and it was obvious this game was going down to the wire.
Virginia Tech managed to keep their lead for most of the second half. Miami didn’t take the lead until a layup by Durand Scott put his team up 59-57 with 5:54 remaining. The Hokies came right back, with Jeff Allen hitting a jumper to tie the game at the 4:23 mark, and J.T. Thompson making two free throws to put Tech up 61-59 with just 2:53 left in the game.
Durand Scott answered with a driving layup, and he drew the foul on the play. Scott nailed the free throw, and Miami went back up 62-61. However, Terrell Bell was right there with another answer from the Hokies. He hit a three-pointer from the corner to put Tech back up 64-62.
Again, it was the freshman Scott who made a big play for Miami. He hit another basket to tie the game, and then a free throw by Jeff Allen gave the Hokies their final lead of the game, 65-64, with 2:02 left.
Scott put the Canes up for good on two free throws on Miami’s next possession. He also hit Miami’s final two free throws of the game to ice the win. Overall, the freshman point guard scored 11 of Miami’s final 13 points. He finished the game with 17 points.
With Miami up 68-65, the Hokies had a chance to tie the game. With 22 seconds left, Delaney drove and dished it out to Terrell Bell on the right win, but Bell’s shot was short. Miami knocked down their final two free throws and won 70-65. Delaney closed Virginia Tech’s final offensive possession fittingly, as he put up an airball on an open three-pointer.
Virginia Tech is still considered “in” the NCAA tournament by most bracketologists. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had the Hokies the sixth-to-last team “in” in his 6pm update on Friday, which came after Tech’s loss.
The Hokies will learn their postseason fate on Sunday night during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. It begins at 6pm, and it will be televised by CBS.