Tre Mann stuck the dagger in the Hokies' heart.
His stepback three in Cordell Pemsl's face as overtime ticked away ended Virginia Tech's dance.
Despite Nahiem Alleyne singlehandedly outscoring the Gators 11-5 over the last two-and-a-half minutes of regulation, including hitting an insanely clutch shot at the buzzer, the Hokies couldn't hang with Florida in Hinkle Fieldhouse, falling 75-70 in overtime in the NCAA Tournament.
"Sometimes in this business you think you know how things are going to play out in terms of pace on either end of the floor and that's not exactly what you're going to get," Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said postgame. "This was a really good Virginia Tech rebounding team, and Colin [Castleton] and [Anthony] Duruji and the rest of the Gators outrebounded us by a pretty good clip. And then we just couldn't get stops.
"We were where we wanted to be and were in good shape, and then we didn't handle some things very well."
The Hokies were outgunned against the Gators in the second half after Keve Aluma (7 pts, 7 reb) and Justyn Mutts (6 pts, 5 reb) fouled out.
After scoring four points on two-of-three field goals in the first half, UF's 6'11" forward Colin Castleton was unstoppable in the second, finishing with 19 points and 14 rebounds. He added three blocks, too, including a game-changing rejection on Tyrece Radford in a four-point game with 1:06 to play.
With Aluma and Mutts in foul trouble, Castleton had himself a day. Florida found him on almost every possession in the post, and even if he didn't score, it opened up opportunities for his teammates.
Starting point guard Tyree Appleby left the game in the second half after he caught Aluma's elbow in the head, but the Gators didn't hesitate; instead, they turned it up a notch, and Castleton was a big reason why.
Tech was forced to double him in the post, especially with Aluma and Mutts in foul trouble and once they fouled out. It also didn't matter that VT forced 18 turnovers, tied for second-most for the Hokies in an NCAA Tournament game.
Florida was able to move the ball around the perimeter and find the open shooter, and Mann (14 pts), Scottie Lewis (15 pts) and Noah Locke (10 pts) all knocked down big baskets.
Alleyne carried the Hokies on the offensive end with the absence of Jalen Cone and Aluma and Mutts having quiet second halves. Alleyme scored 21 of his 28 in the second half, the second-most points in a NCAA Tournament game by a Hokie, one shy of Glen Combs' 29 in 1967.
He hit shot after shot to keep Tech in it, even after the Hokies did not score for stretches of two, three and four minutes at a time in the second half.
"He [Alleyne] has had a great year," Young said. "To do it on this stage and to do it against the Florida Gators, he was terrific. He had a great look and bounce about him. I thought he was really, really good on lock. He was matched with Scottie Lewis a couple of times. Just a tremendous performance. I'm pretty proud."
Radford complemented Alleyne with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting, while Hunter Cattoor added 11 (nine in the first half). The performance wasn't enough to upset the Gators, even after Alleyne's heroics to force overtime.
The loss ends the Hokies' 2020-21 campaign, a year that saw Virginia Tech compile program-defining wins over No. 3 Villanova and No. 8 Virginia. The Hokies finish 15-7, 9-4 in the ACC after a third-place finish in Young's second season at the helm.
It was an improbable tournament bid given Young had to rebuild the roster he inherited from scratch. Additions of Aluma and Mutts in the transfer portal and the recruitment of the core sophomore class — Alleyne, Cattoor, Cone, John Ojiako — have turned the Hokies into a contender in a short time. And the future burns brighter.
Tech recently received a commitment from coveted point guard transfer Storm Murphy. The Wofford product earned All-SoCon honors and averaged 18 points per game this past season. Combine that with a talented young nucleus, a slew of returning veterans and the Hokies are poised for an even better year three under Young.
"We'll be back next year, for sure," Nahiem Alleyne said.