Missed Opportunities Hurt Hokies In Loss To Miami

Virginia Tech had its chances, but failed to build on momentum created against Pitt.

[Virginia Tech Athletics \ Dave Knachel]

By the time the final horn sounded, the buzz around Cassell Coliseum had already gone flat.

Whether it was miscues on the defensive end sending Miami to the charity stripe, missed free throws in clutch situations on the other end or simply the inability to get a stop, wasted opportunities were undoubtedly the story of Virginia Tech's heartbreaking 102-95 triple overtime loss to the Hurricanes.

"It was exhausting," said freshman forward Landers Nolley, who finished with 18 points. "It was a fun environment, but an exhausting game. We just got outworked in the end."

After snapping a five-game losing streak with an impressive win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Hokies looked lackadaisical in a first-half performance that saw them commit seven turnovers. But as soon as Tech looked like it was doomed to sleepwalk to another conference loss against a subpar opponent, it woke up in the second-half with 10:34 to go to get back into the game.

That 14-3 run included two traditional three-point plays from Tyrece Radford and a pair of threes from Jalen Cone β€” who finished with a career-high 20 points β€” and was punctuated with a Radford dunk with 5:15 remaining in regulation that put the Hokies up 68-63. It seemed like the home team was well on its way to getting back-to-back victories.

"Playing with a better pace," Tech first-year coach Mike Young said of the second-half turnaround. "We tend to get a little flat footed and we become easy to guard. I just want to see us get downhill earlier in that shot clock. It's not so much to shoot quicker, but to be more difficult to guard and find a favorable matchup. I thought we did a much better job in the second half."

But for every swing of momentum the Hokies grabbed, it slipped away as quickly. Isaiah Wong, who led the Hurricanes with 27 points, went on a personal 7-0 spurt to give Miami a two-point lead. And even after Tech later responded with a layup from Radford and a free throw from Cone to go up 77-74 with 13 seconds remaining, it once again had a letdown.

On the opposing end, Hurricanes guard Kameron McGusty opted to drive toward the basket β€” a surprising move considering the score and the time remaining β€” but instead of allowing him to score and maintaining a one-point lead, Radford attempted to deny McGusty's shot and the result was a converted three-point play that evened the score up and sent the game to overtime.

"Just so many [turning points]," Young told Jon Laaser and Mike Burnop on the Tech Postgame Show. "You've got to win the thing in [regulation] for crying out loud. Jalen, who played an awfully good game and is a terrific foul shooter, missed the front end that would've put us up four. I certainly don't fault him. He missed a shot. But you're up three and to my surprise, they drive the ball and low and behold, we foul him. There were so many plays like that."

Radford added: "Of course [we want to have a chance to replay the possession]. At the end of the day, we lost. At the end of regulation, Wabissa [Bede] played tough defense. As a unit, we played tough defense. He just hit a tough shot to tie it. I feel like it was lucky, but he hit it."

There were other squandered chances too. Tech led by as much as four in the first overtime after a trey by Cone, but allowed two clutch buckets from Wong in the final minute. Then in the second overtime, after back-to-back circus shots from Radford and Wabissa Bede gave the Hokies a 90-88 lead, it was Wong once again hitting the game-tying shot with 17 seconds left.

By the time the third overtime came around, with both teams looking fatigued, Tech's youth showed as Wong and McGusty took turns churning out buckets and slowly sending fans out the exits of Cassell with the frustration of a sixth loss in its last seven ACC games.

"Golly," Young said. "They give us everything they've got in their tank every time they go on the floor. We just didn't have that pop in the first half and Miami is good. They're playing good basketball. It's hard to keep them out of the lane. [Rodney] Miller is a load in there and [Keith] Stone had a very nice game for them. We popped back in the second half to compete and we were very, very good in a number of areas. I can't ask for anymore. I just hate to lose it."

The end-of-regulation foul was about the only negative of the night for Radford, who continues to emerge as arguably the Hokies' best player this season. He finished with a career-high 26 points and registered his third double-double of the season with 10 rebounds in the loss.

"He's turning into a terrific player," Young said. "He's so aggressive. He's only going to get better, too. You can play him a certain way. He has become a very good foul shooter. He has a nice shooting stroke. He has gotten more comfortable with it and he is so dynamic driving it. His game is going to continue to expand as he moves along here. He is becoming a great player."

Nolley also earned his third double-double of the year and second in his last three games with 18 points and 11 boards, but still struggled to find his shot. He's 7-of-36 from the field in his last two games. Despite that, Young insisted that the redshirt freshman is playing well for him.

"I think he's playing good basketball," the first-year Hokies coach said. "He's playing very, very well. He's giving us everything he has and he's done it throughout the year. His shot selection was very good tonight. He just didn't get the shots down that we expect him to get down."

The game was quirky in other areas, too, with the two teams combining to go 53-of-60 at the free-throw line. Miami outrebounded Tech 55-45, and the Hokies had only a single turnovers from the second-half on.

It was the first time since 1983, when Tech lost 90-86 to West Virginia, that the Hokies played a game that went to three overtimes. It was also the first triple-overtime game in the ACC since Wake Forest and North Carolina in 2003. It was the fourth such contest in program history.

"I look out there and there's nothing more I can ask of my team," Young said. "I didn't think we played very well in the first half. I thought we came back in the second half and acquitted ourselves incredibly well. Tyrece was superb. I could go on and on. It's another game, another incredible experience that our team will grow from, learn from and get better with it."

There's no doubt the game itself was a missed opportunity for Tech as it tries to keep its postseason hopes alive. The Hokies entered Wednesday on the bubble for the NIT and may be in even more trouble now. With Duke, Virginia and Louisville up next, Young knows the challenge.

"I'm aware of where we're going next," Young said. "It's always difficult to lose a game, though. I don't care if you're going to play the Los Angeles Clippers, that's never a good thing."

And it's a more troublesome outcome for the Hokies when it's a loss to one of the four teams below them in the ACC standings.

Now, Tech will try again to right the ship, this time against the No. 5 team in the nation according to KenPom.

"We have to get this one behind us and prepare," Young said. "It seems like an eternity ago that we played [Duke] here. We'll look forward to it and head down to Durham on Friday and prepare our team to compete on Saturday."

Comments

Another great writeup Cody! Keep up the good work.

On a totally unrelated note: Despite the loss, I'd love to see a GIFTORY of Radford for this game.

Is it basketball season yet?

This one hurts because it seemed locked up for a W in regulation. Despite the first half deficit, the team found a way to win this one only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The team is starting to trend toward the preseason expectations, but still looks to be better than expected, which is great news for such a young team. Playing 3 OTs before the toughest stretch of the schedule could be crippling to any postseason chances, but if this team can pull one upset in the next three, the NIT might still come knocking.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

I really am feeling for Landers Nolley... He's out of rhythm and you can see the stress when he lines up a shot now. He's working hard but things just aren't falling. In his last 5 games he's 28/88 (31.82%) overall, 7/38 (18.42%) from 3 even though his PPG has only dipped slightly to 15.6 ppg. His overall shooting in ACC play is 36.7 FG% and 24.7 3P%, 17.3 PPG.

As most everyone says - our team is really young. The mistakes are consistent with that. There is no lack of hustle, no lack of grit or determination, and they absolutely play as a team. They love each other and really do love playing in the Cassell. I can't argue with mistakes when a team has so much heart. There's no doubt I'm renewing my season tickets. These guys will be dangerous with time in S & C and Coach Young's system.

Just my 2 cents worth.

And no surprise there, it's Wally Lancaster with an airball that looked gorgeous on its way to nowhere...
2/15/89, VT vs. South Carolina...

Lee

When he catches and shoots, he is significantly better (high quality shot). This is why he had success in the beginning of the season. With his early success, he has gotten some confidence which I believe lead him to where he is now with taking guys one on one off the bounce and taking delayed 3's. I think he needs to let the game come to him a little bit better.

While I agree he shoots better when he takes better shots (almost everyone does), I don't think the slump is solely based on shot selection. Earlier in the season he was hitting ridiculous shots in isolation, I remember when it didn't seem like we'd win a game if he scored under 20. Whatever the problem is hopefully he'll get past it, Alleyne had a long stretch of poor shooting this year as well, and he's seems to be fine now.

Nolley is 7 for 35 over the last 2 games. Thats... rough.

I'm not too worried about this team going forward. They have a lot of good pieces, but they're just getting a baptism by fire this year. When the games get close, they make some really bad decisions, but you almost expect that out of a team chock full of freshmen. There were a few opportunities late in regulation and OT night where, yeah they had an open look from 3, but the better play might have been to either drive the basket or melt the clock for more seconds. Unfortunately, every time they made that kind of mistake, Miami made them pay, and eventually it cost them the game.

Those are the kind of errors that will be cleaned up with more experience, which is why you should see the team rise in the standings over the next few years. And also why its so vitally important that you try and layer recruiting classes so you never have to completely replace a roster in one recruiting year. Buzz leaving really did screw us over in the short run.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

I didn't have a chance to watch but based on the message board I can tell this was a stressful and frustrating game. What encourages me is that we've been close in many of these games and the team is (hopefully) learning how close the margin is between winning and losing, needing to bring effort every game, and how much of a mental aspect there is to winning at this level.

You could tell this team is young by how they played the last 5 minutes of regulation. They needed to work the shot clock and drive to the basket but we kept throwing up 3's with time on the shot clock. When someone has the ball the other 4 players were frozen. Tough loss but it's one that they can learn from, the future is bright for Mike Young and this team.

1-0 every week

Anyone looking forward to going to Duke on Saturday after they got worked last night? 😳

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

I don't expect us to roll into Cameron Indoor and get a win, but I do expect to see a scrappy young team that isn't scared of the environment. Duke should be the team that's worried, they have far more to lose than we have to gain.

Is it basketball season yet?

Ojiako seemed to be a force when he was in the game, and seems to be gaining more confidence. Hopefully he will learn to not pick up those reach-in fouls.

Losing is never fun, but I am so proud of this team. There's been so much improvement over the year, and the future of VT basketball has never been brighter. CMY deserves credit, but I want to shoutout to Bede and his fellow ACC All Academic Honor Roll buddy Horne. I suspect they've done a lot for this team's growth.

A moment that made me smile was when Ojiako brought his arms down and fouled a Miami driver instead of staying vertical. Bede immediately started talking to him while miming vertical arms. A few weeks ago I remember CMY saying something like "John can't stop fouling," and seeing Bede's reaction to that play was perfect. It was a window into a sound improvement process: coach identifies an issue and provides instruction, players hold each other accountable and reiterate proper instruction, team profits together.

Dude, the NIT is going to be STACKED this year, kinda /s

This is the season where every game is a heartburn inducing event. I like the effort, but the inexperience will continue to show.

Looking forward to next season already, but I'm holding out hope for a post season invite NIT/CIT/Street Jams/Whatever they call them other tournaments these days.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

GODDDDAMMMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why guys? WHY?????!!!!!!!!. Why couldn't we blow a home 3 OT thriller to Wake Forest? Not the HurriFUCKINGcanes.

Other than that, keep your chins up, boys. Jalen Cone, You make 92 out of 100 free throws. We can't ask anymore than that. Keep shooting, son. Tyrese Radford, We wouldn't have been to the 2nd OT had you not PT Barnum'd the over the backboard insane Horse shot. Just don't foul a dude with less than 30 seconds left with a 3 pt lead ever, never, ever, never again.

Leonard. Duh.

2nd OT had you not PT Barnum'd the over the backboard insane Horse shot

or if the refs had called it...that's not a legal basket, impressive but not legal.

(add if applicable) /s

A ref told me as long as it didn't hit the backboard, it actually was legal. I didn't think it was either.

This makes sense to me. Player was in bounds; ball hit nothing but net, it has to be legal.

Go Hokies!!