March 7, 2015
Miami topples Tech in regular-season finale
By Jimmy Robertson
Miami (20-11, 10-8) 463682
Virginia Tech (10-21, 2-16) 184361
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 5,421
  • High Points: 17 - Ahmed Hill
  • High Rebounds: 7 - Satchel Pierce

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech got solid games from Ahmed Hill and Satchel Pierce, but a slow start and Miami’s 3-point shooting turned out to be the difference, as the ’Canes knocked off the Hokies 82-61 at Cassell Coliseum on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Miami got 20 points from guard Manu Lecomte and hit 15 3-pointers in sweeping the season series over the Hokies and moving to 20-11 overall, 10-8 in the ACC. Tech fell to 10-21 overall, 2-16 in league play.

Miami dominated the last 15 minutes of the first half to pull away, using separate runs of 10-0 and 13-0 to lead by as many as 29 points. The ’Canes buried 10 3-pointers in the first half alone, including four by Lecomte, who scored 14 in the first half. Ivan Cruz Uceda added 12 in the first half, including two 3-pointers, and James Palmer hit three 3-pointers en route to nine points.

Miami shot 56.7 percent (17 of 30) in the first half, including 10 of 16 from beyond the 3-point arc. Virginia Tech shot just 35 percent (7 of 20) and turned the ball over six times in the first half.

“Really bad,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said of his team’s first-half performance. “It was very similar to our first half against Boston College [a 66-59 defeat on Monday night]. No good. Not good enough. It’s not what we want to be about as a program. It’s not what we want to be about as a team within the athletic department. Very discouraging.”

The Hokies opened the second half with a 10-2 run, cutting a 46-18 halftime deficit to 48-28 on Pierce’s basket with 15:59 remaining. But the ’Canes went on a 10-0 run, with four different players scoring, to push the lead to 58-28. The Hokies shot 53.6 percent in the second half and held Miami to 34.6 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes, but couldn’t make up the deficit.

“We played really well in the second half,” Williams said. “We played well in the second half against Boston College. I thought maybe it was a quick turn on Monday after two heated contests the previous week [Duke and Virginia], so we gave them two days off. We practiced Thursday and practiced Friday and shoot-around today was maybe nine minutes. What I thought was the justification for a slow start on Monday, we tried to change the itinerary to ensure that it didn’t happen today, and arguably, it happened worse.”

Ahmed Hill led Tech with 17 points, hitting 6 of 11 from the floor and all five of his free-throw attempts. Pierce came off the bench and scored a career-high 13, hitting 5 of 8, and he also grabbed a career-high seven rebounds. Justin Bibbs finished with 11 points.

Before the game, Tech honored seniors Will Johnston and Christian Beyer as part of a “Senior Day” a ceremony. Both came to Tech as walk-ons and earned a scholarship.

“They have bought into what we want to do from the first hour I met them,” Williams said. “I have two sons. I pray they grow up to be as good of kids as those two guys – who they are as people, who they are as students, who they are as workers.

“This is my 21st year in Division I coaching. Those two kids are as good of kids and good humans and bought in as you could ever want.”

Virginia Tech now will play Wake Forest on Tuesday at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m.

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