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Miami squeaks past Virginia Tech in first round of the ACC Tournament

Erik Swoope scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Miami past Virginia Tech
Erik Swoope scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Miami past Virginia Tech
Lauren Carroll/Winston-Salem Journal

One down, four to go.

Miami’s postseason hopes rest on winning five games in five days, otherwise the Hurricanes will be sitting quietly at home amongst the madness of March.

Today they got 20 percent of the way there.

10th-seeded Miami held off a late surge by 15th-seeded Virginia Tech for a 57-53 in the first round of the ACC Tournament. Erik Swoope scored 14 points, including the go-ahead score with 2:42 left in the game, to help the Hurricanes keep their tournament hopes alive.

The Hurricanes led by as many as seven in the second half but allowed the Hokies to creep back into the game due to a scoreless drought that lasted nearly six minutes. After falling behind 49-42, Virginia Tech was able to tie the game on a layup by Devin Wilson before Manu Lecomte answered with a layup of his own with 3:46 remaining to finally end the drought and put Miami back ahead 51-49.

Forward Jarell Eddie came right back with a coldblooded 3-pointer that put the Hokies ahead 52-51 with 3:26 left after trailing for most of the second half. Tonye Jekiri then found Swoope for a basket to put Miami ahead 53-52 and give the Hurricanes the lead for good.

The drama didn’t end there though. Joey Van Zegeren missed two free throws for Virginia Tech with 10 seconds left that could have put the Hokies ahead but Rion Brown came down with a big rebound for Miami and was immediately fouled by Van Zegeren. Brown then hit both free throws to put The Hurricanes ahead 55-52 with eight seconds left.

Lecomte then fouled Wilson immediately to prevent him from getting off a three-point attempt. Wilson made the first free throw then attempted to miss the second one on purpose to give his teammates an opportunity for a rebound and put back to tie the game.

And it worked.

Eddie beat Swoope to an offensive rebound but Swoope redeemed himself, blocking Eddie’s shot attempt in the final seconds. Swoope then hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to seal the game and send the Hurricanes to next round.

It was Miami’s first win against Virginia Tech this season after dropping both regular season meetings to the Hokies.

Miami struggled early on, trailing by as many as eight in the first half before closing the half on an 11-6 run to cut the deficit to just one at 32-31. Davon Reed was huge during the run, nailing four 3-pointers in the half to help Miami close the gap. He finished the game with 14 points.

The Hurricanes carried that momentum into the second half as well, starting the session on a 8-2 run that included a 3-pointer by Rion Brown, who led Miami with 15 points.

Next up for Miami is 7th-seeded NC State tomorrow at 7 PM.

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