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MBB Drops 71-70 Heartbreaker to Hokies in Home Finale

MBB Drops 71-70 Heartbreaker to Hokies in Home Finale

by Alex Schwartz

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – After coming back from a nine-point first-half deficit, the University of Miami men’s basketball team led for nearly the entire second session Saturday evening against Virginia Tech, but fell, 71-70, at the Watsco Center.

The Hurricanes held an eight-point edge with under two minutes to play, but the Hokies closed the contest on a 12-3 run over the final 92 seconds to come away with the win. Sixth-year redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty scored a team-high 15 points for Miami (20-9, 12-6 ACC), which set a program record by tallying 16 steals in an ACC affair.

“Well, I thought it was a great basketball game up until the last 20 seconds,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “And even then, we executed pretty well, but Virginia Tech was able to come up with a couple deflections and steals. That’s an individual effort. It was just a great job by them.”

Virginia Tech (18-11, 10-8 ACC) used a 9-0 run midway through the first half to build a 24-15 edge with 5:38 on the clock, as the Hurricanes went scoreless for 4:22 during a stretch they missed nine of 10 shots.

Miami ultimately went 5:01 without a field goal, but then scored seven points on three consecutive makes in 56 seconds, forcing turnovers on both the Hokies’ possessions during that time, to cut the deficit to two, 26-24, with 3:10 to go. Virginia Tech went back up by six, but Miami closed the session on an 11-3 run in the final two minutes to take a two-point advantage, 35-33, into the locker room.

The late burst included back-to-back 3-pointers by McGusty to initially tie it, a layup by third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong to put Miami ahead and, after a Virginia Tech 3-pointer, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Wong.

The Hokies, the ACC’s leader in long-range shooting percentage, started just 1-of-9 beyond the arc and went 2-of-10 (20.0 percent) in the half, but posted a 12-of-13 clip (92.3 percent) inside it. Miami, though, forced nine turnovers and committed just two, leading to a 13-2 edge in points off giveaways.

An 8-2 run by the Hurricanes early in the second half upped their lead to six, 47-41, with 14:19 remaining. After Virginia Tech, for the second time, got within one, Miami used a 9-3 surge—part of a stretch during which it made five straight field goals—to go up by a then-game-high seven points, 58-51, with 8:33 left.

The Hokies, though, continued to fight back and trimmed the deficit to two, 61-59, with 5:27 on the clock. They then went scoreless for 3:55, though, as Miami hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the latter of which, from sixth-year redshirt senior guard Charlie Moore, upped the lead to a game-best eight, 67-59, with 1:42 to play.

Virginia Tech answered with seven unanswered points to make it a one-point affair, 67-66, with 40 ticks left. Miami then got a fast-break dunk from fourth-year junior guard Jordan Miller three seconds later and added a point at the line from Moore 12 seconds after that to go up by four, 70-66, with 25 seconds remaining, but both also missed a free throw.

A layup from freshman guard Sean Pedulla trimmed the deficit to two with 17 seconds to play and sophomore guard Darius Maddox then stole the inbounds pass and drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 ticks left. It marked the first lead of the half for the Hokies, who hit their last five shots and got a defensive stop at the buzzer to hold on for the win.

McGusty’s 15 points came on 6-of-12 shooting and he added a game-best four steals to match his season high.

Wong finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Moore tallied 12 points, a season-best nine assists to lead all players and three steals. Third-year sophomore forward Anthony Walker scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting off the bench and sixth-year redshirt senior forward Sam Waardenburg tallied 20 points and a career-high-tying three steals.

Redshirt senior forward Keve Aluma paced all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting, adding a game-best 10 rebounds.  Pedulla recorded 17 points, including 13 in the second half, although Miami did limit him to 2-of-8 shooting from deep.

Maddox finished with 13 points, shooting 3-of-5 on 3-pointers, while junior guard Hunter Cattoor notched 10 points and a co-team-best six assists. Graduate student forward Justyn Mutts added nine points, eight rebounds, six assists and a game-high four blocks.

Miami shot 50.0 percent (28-of-56) from the floor and had five double-digit scorers for the third time this season, including the second against the Hokies. It also forced 19 turnovers and committed only six, leading to a 26-15 edge in points off giveaways and a 10-0 margin in fast-break points.

The Hokies, however, recorded two of their four steals in the final 40 seconds and shot 58.0 percent (29-of-50), the third-highest by a Miami foe this year, including the second-highest in ACC play. They made 13 of their first 14 2-point attempts through 21 minutes and finished 22-of-27 (81.5 percent) on such shots.

For the Hurricanes, the setback marked their fifth in ACC play by four points or fewer, including their fourth by one possession and their third by a single point.

Saturday also served as the final home contest for five Miami players, all of whom were honored before the game: McGusty, Moore, Waardenburg, fifth-year redshirt junior forward Deng Gak and sixth-year redshirt senior center Rodney Miller Jr.

“The seniors, they actually got us off to a good start. They scored on the first possession; Rodney Miller scored at the rim, which was good,” Larrañaga said. “They’ve contributed so much. They’re very much responsible for us having this season, not just in games, but in practice, [as well as with] their leadership on the court and off the court.”

Up next for the Hurricanes is a two-game road swing to cap the regular season, beginning Wednesday at 9 p.m. against Boston College, live on ACC Network from Silvio O. Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

To keep up with the University of Miami men’s basketball team on social media, follow @CanesHoops on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

– The Hurricanes moved to 25-20 all-time against Virginia Tech, including 12-7 at home and 15-10 in Larrañaga’s tenure.
– The last five games in this series have been decided by a total of 17 points, with seven of those in a triple-overtime contest and the additional 10 split among the other four.
– Larrañaga, who entered the game with the ninth-most victories of any active Division I coach, is now 690-473 in 38 years as a head coach, including 220-139 in 11 seasons at Miami.
– For the first time this season, Miami, to further recognize its seniors, used a starting lineup of Gak, McGusty, R. Miller Jr., Moore and Waardenburg.
– The Hurricanes’ Senior Day starting lineup has a combined 29 years of collegiate experience, totaling 539 games played and 304 starts.
– In addition, the five starters are an average of just over 24 years of age, with a combined total age above 102.25.
– Moore now has 60 steals this season, passing John Salmons (2001-02), John Salmons (2000-01), Angel Rodriguez (2015-16) and Angel Rodriguez (2014-15) to rise from co-ninth to co-sixth, alongside Vernon Jennings (1998-99), on the program’s all-time single-season leaderboard.
– Moore is just the fifth player—seventh occurrence—in program history to register 60 steals in a single campaign.
– With 85 assists in conference action this season, Moore eclipsed Angel Rodriguez (2015-16) for second place on the program’s ACC-only single-season leaderboard.
– With 306 points in ACC play this year, McGusty passed Guillermo Diaz (2005-06) and Jack McClinton (2007-08) to enter the top five on Miami’s ACC-only single-season scoring list, checking in at fourth place.
– McGusty is the fourth Hurricane—fifth occurrence—to register 300 points in ACC play in a single season.
– McGusty has now played 630 minutes in ACC competition this season, shooting from No. 11 up to sixth on the program’s ACC-only single-season leaderboard after passing Sheldon McClellan (2015-16), Bruce Brown Jr. (2016-17), Durand Scott (2012-13), Sheldon McClellan (2014-15) and Chris Lykes (2018-19).
– With 106 made field goals in league action this year, McGusty passed Wong (2020-21) for third place on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season leaderboard.
– McGusty, with 76 free-throw attempts in league play, entered the top 10 of Miami’s ACC-only single-season leaderboard, tying Dwayne Collins (2009-10) and Guillermo Diaz (2005-06) for ninth.
– With 63 made free throws in ACC play in 2021-22, McGusty entered the top five on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season leaderboard, passing Angel Rodriguez (2014-15) to place co-fifth, alongside Chris Lykes (2018-19).
– With 612 minutes played in ACC competition this season, Wong jumped from No. 16 up to ninth on the Hurricanes’ ACC-only single-season list, moving past Tonye Jekiri (2014-15), Guillermo Diaz (2005-06), Anthony Lawrence II (2017-18), Anthony Lawrence II (2018-19), Sheldon McClellan (2015-16), Bruce Brown Jr. (2016-17) and Durand Scott (2012-13).
– Wong now has 96 made field goals in league action this season, entering the top 10 on the program’s ACC-only single-season list after passing Chris Lykes (2018-19) and Davon Reed (2016-17), checking in at co-eighth place, alongside Kenny Kadji (20212-13) and Jack McClinton (2007-08).
– J. Miller now has 34 steals in ACC action this year, moving into a tie with Guillermo Diaz (2004-05) for third place on the program’s ACC-only single-season leaderboard, behind only the totals from Moore (41) and McGusty (39) this year.
– Saturday snapped a six-game Senior Day winning streak for the Hurricanes, who fell to 9-2 in such games under Larrañaga.
– Miami dropped to 202-16 in Larrañaga’s tenure when leading with two minutes left, including 92-11 in ACC play and 19-2 this season.
– The Hurricanes fell to 19-3 this season when scoring 65-plus points, including 17-3 when scoring 70-plus.
– Saturday marked the 13th time this season Miami has posted double-digit steals, including the 10th in the last 15 outings.
– Entering 2021-22, the Hurricanes had two ACC games in program history with 14-plus steals, but have reached that figure thrice this season: 1/5/22 versus Syracuse (14), 1/8/22 at second-ranked Duke (15) and now Saturday (16), as well.
– The other two times in 2021-22 the Hurricanes had five double-digit scorers were on 1/26/22 at Virginia Tech and on 2/9/22 against Georgia Tech.
– Miami’s six ACC losses this season are by totals of one, one, four, 13, three and one, an average of just 3.8 points per setback.
– The only two teams to shoot better against the Hurricanes this season are Virginia (60.0 percent) on 2/5/22 in Charlottesville, Va., and Dayton (58.7 percent) on 11/25/21 in Kissimmee, Fla.
– Virginia Tech shot 60.9 percent (14-of-23) in the first half, the second team to eclipse 60 percent before the break against Miami this season, joining Virginia, which shot 62.5 percent (15-of-24) at home on 2/5/22.
– The Hokies were 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) over the first 18 minutes of the second half before making their last five shots to finish 15-of-27 (55.6 percent) in the frame.
– Virginia Tech shot 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) beyond the arc in the first 39 minutes of the game prior to hitting its last two attempts.
– Moore, who eclipsed 1,600 points and 4,000 minutes played as a collegian, scored in double figures for the 77th time, including the 20th in 2021-22.
– Moore, who also reached 300 made free throws, posted his 48th five-assist showing, including his 11th this season.
– Before Saturday, Moore’s season high in assists was eight, registered on 12/20/21 versus Stetson, while his ACC best was seven, notched twice (2/2/22 against Notre Dame and 1/1/22 versus Wake Forest).
– Walker, who eclipsed 250 rebounds at Miami, tallied double-digit points for the 21st time, including the sixth this year.
– McGusty scored in double figures for the 90th time, including the 62nd as a Hurricane and 27th this season.
– Wong registered double-digit points for the 58th time, including the 25th in 2021-22.
– Waardenburg scored in double figures for the 23rd time, including the 11th this year.