Coming off a big win against No. 19 Virginia and winners of two of their last three games, the Miami Hurricanes hoped that the momentum would stay with them as they traveled to Virginia Tech on Saturday.
For a while, it looked like it might. Miami (11-17, 4-10 ACC) shot 45.8 percent in the first half and was tied at 32 at intermission. The second half, however, belonged to the Hokies, who won the game 73-57.
Virginia Tech (20-8, 10-4 ACC) shot 68.8 percent in the second half and pulled ahead for good a little more than two minutes into the second half on an A.D. Vassallo layup, which gave the Hokies a 36-35 lead. The ‘Canes were within seven points with just under seven minutes to play, but a 9-3 Hokies run over the next three minutes put the game away.
Sophomore guard Denis Clemente led the Hurricanes in scoring with 20 points, but Miami had only one other starter in double figures. Sophomore guard Jack McClinton came off the bench to score 12 points and freshman forward Dwayne Collins added 11 points and six rebounds for the ‘Canes.
Hurricanes Head Coach Frank Haith has to get more consistent production from the lineup. Two starters, Keaton Copeland and Anthony Harris, had more fouls than points, and the fifth starter, Brian Asbury, made only one shot, scoring only two points.
Virginia Tech, on the other hand, had all five starters score in double figures. The Hokies were led by senior guard Zabian Dowdell with 20 points.
Miami found themselves victimized by the Hokies good passing. Over and over, they would drive into the lane, draw a double or triple-team from Miami’s zone defense, and dump the ball off for a wide open dunk or layup. The Hurricanes’ defense was unable to keep up.
The Miami offense, in contrast, relied on one-on-one play and outside shooting, and they were not very effective at either, particularly in the second half. Making only six of 21 shots from behind the three-point line, Miami shot a stone cold 30.3 percent in the second half.
With the win, Virginia Tech earned a first-round bye in the ACC tournament and their first 20-win season since 1996.
Meanwhile, Miami is playing for next season. Coming off last year’s NIT appearance, the Hurricanes had high hopes this year. However, injuries have plagued the team and left them both undermanned and undersized.
Brian Yates may be contacted at email@example.com.