Battling fatigue and the emotional strain of dropping four consecutive games to ranked opponents, the University of Miami simply had to reverse its fortune Wednesday night against Virginia Tech.
Behind 29 points from junior guard Guillermo Diaz, the Hurricanes snapped their losing streak with a 70-59 win at the Bank United Center.
Reserve forward Raymond Hicks scored 11 points off the bench for UM. Anthony King and Anthony Harris each added 10 for the ‘Canes (15-12, 7-7).
With the victory, Miami matches its Atlantic Coast Conference win total (seven) from last season. The Hurricanes defeated the Hokies for the first time since Jan. 2004.
“When you lose four straight games, you kind of have to refigure out how to win,” said UM Head Coach Frank Haith. “This is a great win for us against an athletic and skilled team like Virginia Tech. We are happy to get to .500 in the conference.”
Virginia Tech (13-13, 3-10), who lost its third game in a row, was led by freshman forward A.D. Vassallo with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Junior guard Zabian Dowdell also finished with 15 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Down 7-5 early after five straight points by two-time ACC Freshman of the Week Vassallo, Diaz converted a three-point play to spark an 8-2 Hurricane run.
“Guillermo has had two great performances back-to-back,” Haith said. “He played under control and we did a great job of getting him the ball. He’s starting to play with much more confidence.”
The Hokies closed to within two points at 16-14 on a Coleman Collins jumper with less than 11 minutes left in the first half.
Anthony King responded with three baskets in a row, highlighting a 13-0 UM flurry to pull ahead 29-14 with 7:13 remaining in the half.
Virginia Tech opened the second half with increased energy, as Vassallo scored seven points in a 9-0 Hokie run to cut their deficit to 41-36. A four-point play by Dowdell got the Hokies within two (47-45) for the first time since the 10:56 mark of the first half, but they failed to complete the comeback.
Harris gave Miami some breathing room with a deep three-pointer of the backboard as the shot clock expired to make the score 55-47, much to the delight of the semi-capacity crowd.
“That shot broke the spirit of our team,” said Virginia Tech Head Coach Seth Greenberg. “I can’t imagine us playing any more uninspired. That was the most embarrassing effort I have ever been associated with.”
Miami will now enjoy a full week of rest before traveling to College Park on Wednesday for a pivotal conference game against Maryland at 9 p.m.
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.