The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team got off to yet another slow start on Wednesday night and could not recover, falling 70-59 to Miami on the road. The Hokies trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, cut the lead to two in the second half, but could not finish. The loss drops Tech to 13-13 overall and 3-10 in ACC play. Miami improves to 15-12 and 7-7 in the ACC.
Freshman forward A.D. Vassallo was the only bright spot for the Hokies offensively. Vassallo finished with 15 points and shot 6-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-6 from three-point rage. He also had three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot. Zabian Dowdell also had 15 for Tech, but shot just 5-of-15 from the field.
Virginia Tech’s free throw shooting was poor. The Hokies hit just 10-of-17 shots from the charity stripe. Coleman Collins, who finished with 10 points, was 6-of-6 from the line, but Zabian Dowdell was just 3-of-7 and Deron Washington was 1-of-4. They were the only three Tech players to get to the free throw line. Miami was very efficient from the free throw line, hitting 13-of-15 shots.
Miami’s star guard Guillermo Diaz outscored Tech’s backcourt single handedly. Diaz scored 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting. As noted above, Zabian Dowdell scored 15 points and suffered through a poor shooting night, while Jamon Gordon scored just five points and had an uncharacteristic five turnovers.
The Hokies were outrebounded by just one, 29-28. Both teams committed 12 turnovers. Miami defeated Virginia Tech by simply shooting the ball better. Tech was better from three-point range, hitting 7-of-17 shots (41%), while the Hurricanes were 5-of-17 (29%). But in overall field goals, the Hokies were just 21-of-48 (43.8%). Miami shot very well, hitting 26-of-51 shots (51%).
The Hurricanes also outscored the Hokies in every key category. Miami held a 10-9 advantage in points off turnovers, 28-14 in the paint, and 13-12 in second chance points. Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon did not start the game because they failed to fulfill a team commitment following the NC State game.
The Hokies got off to a good start thanks to the hot shooting of A.D. Vassallo. He hit two of Tech’s first three shots, including a three-pointer, and the Hokies jumped out to a 7-5 lead early in the game. However it would be the last time they would claim the lead.
With 10:26 remaining in the first half and holding a 16-14 lead, Miami went on a 13-0 run that lasted until the 7:13 mark. The Hurricanes scored on three easy layups as well as a dunk during the run, and Guillermo Diaz added a three-pointer for good measure. In a span of just over three-minutes, a close game had escalated into a blowout, with the Hurricanes leading 29-14.
The Hokies did manage to cut into the lead a little before halftime. Zabian Dowdell nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key at the 1:13 mark to make the score 39-27 Miami. That score held up until halftime.
Virginia Tech made their usual second half rally by scoring from the outside and the inside. Again it was A.D. Vassallo playing strong at the beginning of the half, scoring ten of Tech’s first 12 points. His three-pointer with 14:53 remaining in the game cut the Miami lead to 45-39, and the Hokies were not done.
With Miami leading 47-41, Zabian Dowdell drained a three-pointer from the corner to cut the lead to 47-44, and he was fouled on the shot attempt as well. Dowdell hit the free throw to bring the Hokies within two with 12:37 left in the game. Miami then went back up by five, and then took the air out of the Hokies’ sails with a long three-pointer.
With the score 52-47 and the ball in Miami’s possession, Virginia Tech played great defense, with Zabian Dowdell blocking a shot attempt by Guillermo Diaz. The ball rolled free to Miami, and with less than a second left on the shot clock, Anthony Harris banked in a very deep three-pointer to put the Hurricanes up 55-47 with 9:21 left in the game. Television replays were not clear as to whether or not Harris got the shot off in time, but it counted nonetheless.
The Hokies were able to cut the lead to 55-51, but that would be as close as they would come for the rest of the game. Tech missed chances at the free throw line to keep themselves in the game in the second half. Deron Washington missed the front end of a one-and-one on two different occasions in a 37 second span with the score 57-51 Miami.
It was poor free throw shooting, as well as a serious scoring drought late in the second half, that kept the Hokies from hanging with Miami late in the game. After Deron Washington his a jumper with 7:48 left to make the score 55-51, Virginia Tech did not score again until the 3:00 mark when Zabian Dowdell hit one-of-two free throws. They missed three field goals and three free throws during the scoring drought. The Hokies also turned the ball over twice during that span, with the normally reliable Jamon Gordon the culprit on both occasions.
The play of Guillermo Diaz down the stretch was also a big factor in Tech’s loss. Diaz scored nine points in the final 5:46 of the game, hitting jumpers, layups and acrobatic shots in the paint.
The Hokies will return to action on Saturday night when they host the Florida State Seminoles. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm and the game will not be televised.