Hunter Cattoor had a look at the end of the game off a screen for Virginia Tech and Mike Young, but his 3-pointer fell short. After leading for much of Saturday evening’s game in Littlejohn Coliseum, the Hokies lost to No. 19 Clemson by one, 51-50.
Tech controlled the game for much of the second half and had a two-point cushion with 21 seconds remaining after Grant Basile knocked down one-of-two free throws. But the Tigers ran an inbounds play to Hunter Tyson, who pump faked and got Cattoor in the air before drilling the go-ahead three.
It was a very even game, one with plenty of defense and a few offensive spurts. In the end, though, the Hokies (11-8, 1-7 ACC) came out on the losing end for the seventh straight time. It’s the program’s first seven-game losing streak since 2014-15 under Buzz Williams.
PJ Hall posted 20 points (7-of-15) and eight rebounds for league-leaders Clemson (16-4, 8-1 ACC). Tyson was the only other player in double figures with 12. The Tigers played without starting point guard Chase Hunter, and his loss showed – they finished with 17 turnovers to eight assists.
On the other side, Grant Basile led Virginia Tech with 13 points. Former Clemson big man Lynn Kidd added 10. Justyn Mutts contributed eight. That trio made 12 of its 22 shots (54.5%).
However, the backcourt of Sean Pedulla (seven points, 2-of-13), Hunter Cattoor (six points, 2-of-8), Darius Maddox (zero points, 0-of-6) and MJ Collins (six points, 2-of-3) was a combined 6-of-30 (20%) from the floor. It’s the first time all season that Pedulla failed to reach double figures.
Tech was abysmal on the offensive end in the second half. After shooting 43% in the first 20 minutes, it started the second period 2-of-18 from the field through the first 14 minutes. Yet, it was still in the game. And a 3-pointer from Collins with 5:47 remaining cut the deficit to two points, 44-42.
That sparked an 8-0 run that helped the Hokies retake the lead, and they were in the driver’s seat heading into the final minutes. But after trading baskets, Tyson’s three gave the Tigers the lead for good.
Tech closed the first half on an 8-1 run over the final four minutes and led 31-26 at intermission. Clemson countered with some heavy runs after recess, though, of 7-0 and 8-0. Over the first 13 minutes of the second half, the Tigers outscored the Hokies 18-8.
Tech hung around, though, and had a chance at the end when it mattered. But Cattoor’s shot came up short, and despite Pedulla grabbing an offensive rebound, he couldn’t put it back up.
After losing to the Tigers on Jan. 4 in Cassell Coliseum, it’s the first time ever that Clemson has swept Virginia Tech in two meetings in a season.
The Hokies have to turn the page quickly as a matchup with Duke (14-5, 5-3 ACC) looms on Monday night. It’s a 7 p.m. ET clash on ESPN. Tech’s home for a good while, too – four of its next five games (Syracuse, Virginia and Boston College) are at home. The only road trip is one to Miami on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
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