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Virginia wins rock fight with Virginia Tech, 54-52

jayden gardner keve aluma
Jayden Gardner is challenged at the rim by Keve Aluma. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Virginia Tech star Keve Aluma was having his way with Virginia’s bigs, until he wasn’t. The Cavaliers, not quite the defensive unit you’re used to seeing from Tony Bennett teams, looked like it in the final three minutes, holding the Hokies scoreless to key a 6-0 run that lifted the ‘Hoos to a 54-52 win.

Aluma had a game-high 22 points for Tech (8-7, 0-4 ACC), including a nice drive and left-hand finish with 3:14 to go that put the Hokies up, 52-48.

Francisco Caffaro, who got a career-high 31 minutes, hit the front end of a two-shot foul, then a tough layup in the lane with 2:21 to go, cutting the margin to one.

Aluma turned the ball over on the Hokies’ next possession, and Virginia (10-6, 4-2 ACC) turned that into two on the other end on a pair of free throws by Armaan Franklin that put UVA up, 53-52, with 1:33 left.

Aluma then missed a hook shot in the lane with 1:08 to go. Tech forced a shot-clock violation on Virginia’s next possession, giving Tech the ball with a chance to take the lead, but Aluma turned the ball over again, with 15 seconds on the clock.

Kihei Clark hit one of two at the line with 13 seconds left, but the miss on the second left the door open for Virginia Tech.

Hunter Cattoor missed a contested three with five seconds left. The long rebound went to Storm Murphy, who missed badly on another contested three at the buzzer.

Aluma needed 20 shots to get his 22 points – he finished 9-of-20 from the field in 38 minutes.

Cattoor and Murphy each finished with 10 points for the Hokies, who shot 42 percent (21-of-50) from the field and 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from three.

Caffaro, who checked in at the 17:00 mark of the first half when starting center Kadin Shedrick picked up his second foul, finished with a career-high 16 points – on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor – and a game-high nine rebounds.

Franklin had 15 for Virginia, on 5-of-11 shooting.

A nice game for Reece Beekman, who has been on a good run of late – he had 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting and five assists in 38 minutes.

In his last five games, Beekman is averaging 10.8 points per game on 56.1 percent shooting.

Virginia’s leading scorer, Jayden Gardner, was well-defensed by Tech low-post defensive specialist Justyn Mutt, and was limited to just four points on 2-of-10 shooting, with four turnovers.

UVA shot 40 percent from the floor (20-of-50) and 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) from three.

The difference came at the line – Virginia was 11-of-16, Caffaro alone going 6-of-10; Tech was just 3-of-3.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press