On a night when Miami needed a victory, the Hurricanes (13-7, 4-5) came out flat. Virginia Tech (12-7, 5-3) came into the Convocation Center and picked up the victory 73-63, but the final score doesn’t reflect the type of basketball game it was. In a game that featured nine lead changes and three ties, the Hokies were able to convert on their final 14 of 17 possessions to steal a win away from Miami. Junior Robert Hite lead the ‘Canes with 17 points, but sophomore Anthony Harris only had eight a game after scoring a career-high 28 against Wake Forest.
Zabian Dowdell led four Hokies in double digits with 23, including a couple of three pointers late in the game that crushed the Hurricanes’ comeback.
Miami led for much of the first half and took a 30-29 lead into halftime. Sophomore Guillermo Diaz struggled mightily from the field, as he only connected on 3-of-12 shots in the first frame and finished the game with 15 points.
In the second half, Virginia Tech slowed things down and lulled Miami to sleep at times. The Hokies took the lead 53-50 on a three pointer by Jamon Gordon with 7:06 to play and never looked back. With just under three minutes to play and trailing by five, Hite missed his second free throw, but Gary Hamilton grabbed the offensive rebound and Diaz made a lay-up to cut the lead to three. Sensing Miami needed a stop, the crowd of 5,375 rose to its feet and the Hokies threw the ball away.
“Anytime we are playing a team at home and don’t have more energy than they do, that’s really disappointing to see.”
– Frank haith,
But in the final two minutes, Miami would have two turnovers that would cost it the ballgame, as Harris and Will Frisby each threw cross-court passes that were stolen and converted into easy lay-ups by Virginia Tech. Head Coach Frank Haith said the loss boiled down to one thing.
“They had more energy out there tonight than we did,” Haith said. “Anytime we’re playing a team at home and don’t have more energy than they do, that’s really disappointing to see.”
After winning several close games at home this season, Miami couldn’t execute down the stretch as it had all year long. The main problem was not being able to extend the lead and put the Hokies away. Miami has now lost four of its last five games, losing a game it desperately needed, after defeating the Hokies the last six times they played. Hite knows his team lost a tough one tonight.
“We let this one slip away, but we have to rebound and steal one against Maryland,” Hite said.
The Hurricanes now have to face another ranked opponent when Maryland comes to Coral Gables on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Terrapins are ranked No. 21 in the country, yet they lost to Clemson on Monday night.
The Hurricanes allowed the Hokies to shoot 61 percent from the field in the second half, even though they contested shots all night long. Haith knows his team needs to get over this loss in a hurry.
“We have to rally the troops, stay together, and steal one on Saturday,” Haith said. “Maryland got a big win on the road against Duke last week, but then stubbed their toe against Clemson, so we need to steal one like they did.”
Douglas C. Kroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org