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Virginia rebounds, literally, from loss to North Carolina

jayden gardner
Jayden Gardner. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Virginia closed on a 6-0 run to rally past Virginia Tech, 54-52, Wednesday evening at John Paul Jones Arena.

Trailing 52-48, the Cavaliers held the Hokies scoreless for the last 3:13 of the game to secure the win.

Virginia Tech had two looks in the game’s final possession to win or tie the game, but both shots drew iron and nothing else.

Virginia (10-6, 4-2 ACC) lost its only contest with VPI last season, but has now won five of the last six games against the Hokies.

Tech drops to 0-4 in the ACC and 8-7 overall. It’s the first 0-4 start for Virginia Tech in ACC play since dropping their first six league games during the 2014-15 campaign.

The unsuspecting hero for UVA: Francisco Caffaro, who had 16 points while giving Virginia a solid presence in the paint defensively. Down 52-48, Caffaro made one of two free throws to trim the lead to 52-49. Moments later, a strong inside move by Caffaro pulled the Cavaliers to within one at 52-51.

Two Armaan Franklin free throws gave UVA a 53-52 lead with a minute and half remaining.

Tech got the ball in low to leading scorer Keve Aluma, but his short jumper was off, and Virginia grabbed the rebound with 1:08 remaining.

Virginia Tech’s defense forced a shot-clock violation, giving the ball back to the Hokies. Driving to the basket, Aluma slipped and fell to the floor, giving the ball back to UVa with 14.2 seconds left.

On the inbounds, Clark was fouled and proceeded to make his first of two free throw attempts. The suspense began when Clark’s second shot rolled around and off the rim.

Tech rebounded the miss and pushed the ball down the floor. Virginia, with just four team fouls, committed a foul to force a Hokie inbounds with under 10 seconds left.

Hunter Cattoor missed a three-pointer with five seconds remaining, and Storm Murphy missed a jumper at the buzzer.

Virginia took it to the Hokies on the glass, especially in the first half, when they enjoyed a 19-13 rebounding edge, including seven offensive rebounds – a huge turnaround from the rebounding disparity Saturday in Chapel Hill against North Carolina.

When asked about the turnaround in rebounding after the Carolina game, Caffaro said it was about finishing and playing hard. “That’s what we have to do, play hard and stay after it,” said Caffaro.

Caffaro played a physical game against Aluma. Asked about his effort, Caffaro said “He’s (Aluma) is a talented player a crafty player with good footwork. I just tried to stay down and put my hands up.”

Virginia stays at home Saturday, hosting Wake Forest at 4 p.m.

Story by Scott German

augusta free press
augusta free press