Foul Trouble, Wayward Shooting Doom Hokies In Loss At Pitt

Hokies head coach Mike Young couldn’t do much but watch as Hunter Cattoor fouled out in 25 minutes at Pitt. (Virginia Tech athletics)

PITTSBURGH — This isn’t Mike Young’s first rodeo making post-game comments to the media, so the Hokies head coach deftly walked right up to the line of criticizing the officials after Virginia Tech’s 79-64 loss at Pitt on Saturday, noting that both coaches shouldn’t have to deal with that many fouls on their star players.

It prompted a follow-up from a reporter, asking if Young thought the officiating was too aggressive.

“I didn’t say that. You did,” Young clarified.

A beat passed before the coach added, “You might be right,” drawing laughs.

Foul trouble plagued the Hokies’ best players at the Petersen Events Center, but so did an awful night of outside shooting that doomed one of Tech’s last chances at adding a Quadrant 1 win to its fading postseason résumé.

Virginia Tech (15-12, 7-9 ACC) shot a dismal 3-for-20 from 3-point range, making it tough to keep up with a Panthers squad that makes more threes than anyone in the ACC. 

Reigning ACC Player of the Week Blake Hinson sank three of Pitt’s nine treys and scored 22 points as the Panthers (18-9, 9-7) used an 18-0 run early in the second half to turn a tie game at the break into a laugher.

“They were better than we were today, needless to say,” Young said.

Tech couldn’t buy an outside shot, going 3-for-20 from 3-point range. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Tech battled just to stay in the game during the first half, with starters Sean Pedulla, Hunter Cattoor and Robbie Beran all picking up two early fouls. The Hokies trailed by as many as seven but evened things up at 36 by halftime thanks to 50 percent shooting from the field (15-for-30) and a fine showing from Pedulla, who had 14 of his game-high 26 points at the break.

The wheels fell off in the second half, however. Pedulla picked up a questionable third foul on a reach-in less than a minute in, with Cattoor following suit a minute later, sending both to the bench. 

“Brutal,” was all Young could muster afterward before trailing off. 

“It was definitely tough,” Pedulla said. “You just can’t afford that, especially in a game like this, when none of them are in foul trouble, really. It just makes it hard for us defensively.”

Shortly after back-to-back Mylyjael Poteat baskets gave the Hokies a 42-40 lead, the Panthers went on a backbreaking run, out-scoring the Hokies 18-0 over the next 5:38, taking a 16-point lead on a three by Guillermo Diaz Graham. Tech missed seven straight shots during the stretch. 

“We had some great cracks at it, but I thought our lack of shot-making affected our defense a little bit,” Young said. “We needed to have an uptick in the second half, play better basketball.” 

Cattoor picked up his fourth foul during the run, heading back to the bench shortly before coming back in. He got his fifth with 4:40 left while contesting a corner three from Hinson. He mouthed, “I didn’t even touch him” as he strode to the bench. Tech’s second-leading scorer finished with seven points in only 25 minutes. 

“You’re dealing with fouls,” Young said. “Cattoor, I’m dealing with it all night long. I shouldn’t have to deal with that. Hinson, Coach [Jeff] Capel shouldn’t have to deal with that. All right? Your best players should be on the floor. Pedulla? Your best players should be on the floor.”

Tech trailed by as many as 20 and never got closer than 10 down the stretch. The Hokies shot just 31 percent in the second half (9-for-29), going 2-for-14 from 3-point range.

“I thought we had great shots,” Young said. “You’ve got to make open shots in basketball.”

Sean Pedulla was one of the few bright spots for the Hokies, scoring a game-high 26 points. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Pedulla was one of the few bright spots, finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists in addition to his 26 points. It was the most he’s scored since putting up 33 against Miami on Jan. 13 and was his first time shooting 50 percent from the field since the win at NC State, nine games ago.

“I felt good,” the junior guard said. “I was just trying to be aggressive. Sometimes I was the only offense that we were really getting, so I just kind of wanted to put pressure downhill and do what I’ve always done, which is attack the basket.”

The loss dropped the Hokies to 1-8 in road games this season, tied with lowly Louisville for the fewest wins away from home by an ACC team. 

It doesn’t get easier next with a trip to the JMA Wireless Dome to play Syracuse on Tuesday, perhaps the 10th-place Hokies’ last chance at avoiding a first-round matchup on a Tuesday in the ACC Tournament. 

“It’s really hard to win on the road,” Pedulla said. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is. You’ve got to play a full 40 minutes to beat teams, because the atmosphere is going to give them a chance to win any game, especially in the ACC.

“It’s definitely something we need to improve on.”

Box Score: Pitt 79, Virginia Tech 64 

15 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. In another article, it correctly states that the VT Women’s Team approached their game in an all-business way. These girls really go about their business by being a dynamic team…each player able to adjust and do positive things based on what the other team is giving them. And they have fun playing for each other, WANTING to give the other person opportunities. That’s infectious. And that’s why they are winning. Sure, they’re talented, but so is the men’s team. But the men, for some unexplained reason, can’t seem to keep from being mentally distracted and mentally linear and force things when the regular offense isn’t working. Against UVA we saw what an open ended, less thinking and more doing, “make your teammate better” approach can do.

  2. Lots of focus on the officiating but this team is tied for the worst road record in the ACC the past two years. Not sure exactly what it is but this program just doesn’t appear to have the toughness required to win on the road.

    This is an experienced team and should be better.

  3. I missed the gam, except for the end, Early in the season, this looked like a win but Pitt ihas been coming on for several weeksnow. Thus, going in, I saw it as a loss. Also, a road game. So much balance in the ACC this year. No easy games. Six teams are either 2-wins above 0.500, 0.500 or 2 games below. Still, frustrating that Miami beat us twice but is 6-10.

  4. Brutal game is great description by Coach Young for officiating in this game. Hunter’s fourth foul was a terrible call as well. Give Sean credit as he played his butt off… when you have no back up help from a freshman who obviously is no way an ACC type player along with another guard who shooting % is worst in the conference then wins are difficult to come by

  5. Nickel and Kidd once again disappear when needed.
    With an average team it’s tough to win on the road in the ACC

  6. Non-contact fouls are killers…..hard to explain how paid officiating can be so bad in the ACC. And nothing ever gets done about it.

    1. “.hard to explain how paid officiating can be so bad in the ACC. And nothing ever gets done about it.”

      Unfortunately – it only gets worse. And the worse it gets – the more it affects outcomes. The Women’s game is much worse than the Men’s game – to the point it seems like a miracle when it can be said that the officiating is/was OK.

      I get it that conferences are having a difficult time getting and keeping quality officiating. The fact is – a crew is only as good as its weakest link.

      1. “Bring on the spring game?” Really. Your skipping over quite easily the best VT sports team in the last 25 years? Please! I wish the WBB could get the same emotion from fans as the MBB or FB team does. They sure will go farther than both of them.

        1. I think the women’s Bb team gets a lot of support from VT fans.
          Today’s game I bet will show that.

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