Virginia Tech Falls to UVA on Late Three-Pointer

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Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech lost a heartbreaker to UVA on Wednesday night. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech fought back from a 15-point halftime deficit to take a second half lead, but ultimately fell to in-state rival UVA in the closing seconds by the final score of 56-53.  The Hokies dropped to 15-13 overall and 6-11 in the ACC with loss, while the Cavaliers improved to 20-7 overall and 12-5 in league play.

The first half was as bad as it could get offensively for the Hokies, who scored only 11 points over the first 20 minutes.  Tech was 5-of-24 (20.8%) from the field and 1-of-13 (7.7%) in the first half, and did not make a single trip to the free throw line.  The Hokies hung in there and played good defense, but still found themselves down 26-11 at halftime.  The 11 points marked the lowest-scoring half for the Hokies since they joined the ACC.

The second half was a different story as Tech came out firing on all cylinders.  The Hokies scored on their first five possessions of the half, and put up a total of 42 points on the No. 2 ranked team in adjusted defensive efficiency.  They were 14-of-27 (51.8%) from the field, 8-of-14 (57.1%) from three-point range, and 6-of-7 (85.7%) from the free throw line. 

“We shot 20% in the first half and we were miserable going down by 15 [points],” Mike Young said. “We had great shots in the first half and had the same shots in the second that we had in the first. We just happened to get the second half shots to go down.”

The Hokies slowly chipped away at the UVA lead in the second half and finally succeeded in taking a lead of their own when Hunter Cattoor hit a three-pointer to make the score 47-46 with 4:51 remaining.  UVA briefly regained the lead, but then Tyrece Radford scored a layup and Landers Nolley made a pair of free throws to make the score 51-48 with 3:31 remaining. 

UVA turned the ball over on their ensuing possession, and Tech had the ball back up three with three minutes left.  However, instead of adding to the lead, the Hokies had three straight empty possessions.  First Nolley was called for an offensive foul, and UVA responded by scoring to cut the lead to 51-50.  Then Jalen Cone missed a three-pointer on what could be considered a bad shot early in the shot clock, and UVA responded by draining a three to go back up 53-51.  On Tech’s next possession, Tyrece Radford missed a 16-footer that was again taken too early in the shot clock.

Still, Tech got two stops after Radford’s miss, and it was Radford who drove the lane for the game tying layup with just over 11 seconds on the clock.  The game was tied at 53, and UVA head coach Tony Bennett elected not to call a timeout for his team’s final possession.  Starting point guard Kihei Clark never passed the ball, electing to take a step back three-pointer from an angle over Jalen Cone, and it went in with 2.6 seconds left.  The Hokies got a last second shot from Landers Nolley from near halfcourt, but it was no good, and UVA won 56-53.

“[In the second half we had] just a better level of movement and ball movement, but at some point, you just have to get the ball in the basket,” Young said, referring to Tech’s performance in the first half. “It puts too much pressure on your defense if you don’t. It’s a much easier game, it’s a better officiated game, when the ball is going in the basket. There’s no consolation in getting your ears pinned back, but Virginia fought. The Hokies fought. That was a really good college basketball game, and I wish we could have gotten a better shake there at the end, wish we could have made a couple more plays.”

The Hokies return to action on Sunday when they travel to Louisville.  Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm, and the game will be televised by the ACC Network.  Check your local listings.

Box Score

Selected Game Notes From Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech started a lineup of Wabissa Bede, Tyrece Radford, Isaiah Wilkins, John Ojiako, and Nahiem Alleyne, marking the first time all season Tech has started these five. This is Wilkins third start all season and Ojiako’s first career start. 

Nolley led Tech in scoring for the 15th time this season and reached double figures in points for the 24th time. 

PJ Horne hit three 3-pointers, tying his second-highest performance from downtown this season. 

Cattoor nailed two triples against UVA, giving him eight over his last four, averaging two 3s a game. 

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19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Poise and experience wins close games in crunch time. This young team has neither, hence a string of close ones that got away. Conversely, UVA is battle tested. Our Hokies are learning in the crucible and will be better for it in the long run over the next couple of years. Proud of the way the kids fought back.

  2. We have been terrible in the first half or first 15 minutes of many games this season. Need to start those who can score i.e. Cattoor, Cone, Radford, Ojiako, and either Alleye (sp) or Nolley. It’s too much to ask a young team to give any ACC team a 12 to 24 point head start and then expect a win.

    1. I agree. MY did start a new lineup so he’s trying but still seems committed to Bede until we get really far behind. We are getting open shots and just not hitting them. So, we need to start players that are most likely to hit shots. I don’t fully understand how we could shoot so well early in the year and shoot so much worse now (although most of this drop-off is Nolley and Horne). There have been some games where were are pushed to take a bad shot at the end of the shot clock. But, recently it seems like we are getting open shots and not hitting them, clearly the case in the first half last night. And we are making critical mistakes as well which seems to cost us every close game.

  3. I appreciate the team’s effort, but they have lost several games at the end due to mental errors. Despite his talent, Nolley tends to try too hard at times, forcing things. The charge call on him was clearly correct in my opinion. He lowered his head and shoulders like a running back. Some better clock management by the team would have helped as well last night. Like most everyone else though, this team shows great potential, and I enjoy watching them play. Go Hokies!

  4. This team starts every game in the ACC facing an opponent who is bigger than them, more experienced than them, and in most (all?) instances more talented than them. The fact that they have been able to win 6 games in the ACC and have been competitive in several others is a testament to both their coach and the young men on the team. The future is bright!

  5. When was the last time any team scored 42 points in a half on UVa. The ‘hoos aren’t as potent on offense as last season, but their D is as good as ever. Also, when has a team come from 15 points down to take a lead against UVa. This VT team is short on height,,, short on talent… short on luck… but big on heart.

  6. Chris, I have to disagree that we played good defense in the first half. The pick and pop, and pick and roll absolutely killed us and they ran it over and over. We did make significant defensive adjustments in the 2nd half which appeared to shut those plays down. I suggest that you go back and look at the first half and I think you will see what I’m referring to.

    1. Horne’s defense was terrible. He was slow to drop back to cover his man multiple times during the game.

      Most of the comeback was with Bede on the bench. I think it’s time to let Cone take the reigns and see what happens. Same thing with Horne. The youngsters have way more upside and they need more PT.

  7. Interesting story might be the number of losses in last (or near last) possession. Syracuse, miami, uva…..and any others. What happened, what could have happened why it did or didn’t.
    Doesn’t seem like Nolley has a high basketball IQ, but to be fair, I’m hardly qualified to judge.

    1. too many shots early in possessions. Not just Nolley but not closing out often means mistakes and non-mistakes. MIssing shots is just missing shots. But early shots, poor shots, turnovers, poor defense are things that are avoidable with coaching …. in theory they SHOULD be experienced if they have played basketball most of their lives.

  8. I need to stop watching this team play. Every time I turn a game on we are in it and then they start playing terribly. I turned it off at half, but too much damage had been done.
    Seriously, glad they fought back in this one. I really like this team and think they are getting some great leadership from Bede, just need to close out some of these games.

    1. “start playing terribly?”
      This team deserves enormous credit for being competitive this year. They are playing way beyond our expectations. Last night’s 2nd half comeback was amazing.

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