CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Short-handed again, Miami finally ended a losing skid but not before some late drama.
Dejan Vasiljevic scored 18 points as the Hurricanes defeated Virginia Tech 71-61 and snapped a four-game slide on Tuesday night.
The Hurricanes (11-9, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) built a 22-point first-half lead and withstood a Hokies rally that got them within 63-59 on Landers Nolley’s layup with 1:01 remaining.
Vasiljevic missed the front end of a one-on-one with 52 seconds remaining, giving Virginia Tech (14-7, 5-5) an opportunity to further reduce the deficit. But Miami’s Harlond Beverly stole Wabissa Bede’s pass and converted two free throws with 42 seconds left for a 65-59 advantage. Beverly finished with 13 points.
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“That’s what you have to do at the end of the game,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We always talk about having poise down the stretch in close games. Even though we had some errors we also made some good plays on both ends of the court.”
Vasiljevic’s layup with five seconds left gave Miami a 69-61 lead. Beverly converted two additional free throws and scored a layup in the final 37 seconds.
“They were coming back up and making it a closer game,” Beverly said. “Coach (Larranaga) does a really good job of preparing us for those situations.”
Rodney Miller finished with 11 points, including seven in a 24-2 run over a 7:30 stretch that helped Miami build a 41-19 lead in the first half. Miller’s layup with 4:04 remaining capped the surge.
“I thought we played the best half of basketball we have played thus far in the ACC, in the first 20 minutes,” Larranaga said. “We scored the ball extremely well, we shot the ball extremely well and we shared the ball extremely well. But what made that possible was that we played terrific defense and held them to 25 points.”
The Hurricanes played without leading scorer leading scorer Chris Lykes for the second consecutive game. Lykes, who averages a team-leading 15.7 points, is sidelined because of a groin injury.
“This one was huge for us,” said Miller, who also finished with nine rebounds. “We needed this for our confidence.”
Isaiah Wong added 10 points for the Hurricanes.
Tyrece Radford scored a career-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting for the Hokies, who forced 10 Miami turnovers in the second half.
“Even without Lykes they have a number of kids that can score,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. “They clearly outplayed us in the first 20 (minutes).”
Virginia Tech: The Hokies finished with 12 turnovers for the second consecutive game in double figures. Virginia Tech entered the game committing a nation-low 9.7 turnovers per game.
Miami: A depleted rotation has forced coach Jim Larranaga to increase the minutes of freshmen Beverly and Wong. For the second consecutive game, they played extended minutes — Wong with 32 and Beverly with 29.
SHREDDING INEXPERIENCED LABEL:
The dramatic final minute provided Beverly an opportunity to deal with game pressure moments that will continue in the freshman guard’s Miami career.
“I try not to think of it as stressful, I’m playing basketball,” Beverly said. “I feel I learn a lot from the older teammates that surround me and help me grow like Rodney, DJ (Vasiljevic) and Chris. That’s what has been helpful to me.”
MAJOR LEAGUERS PRESENT:
San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado and free-agent first baseman Yonder Alonso attended Tuesday’s game. A 10-year major-league veteran, Alonso played college baseball at Miami from 2006 to 2008.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies will return home and face No. 5 Florida State on Saturday.
Miami: The Hurricanes play at Pittsburgh to conclude their two-game regular season set on Sunday. Miami beat the visiting Panthers 66-58 on Jan. 12.
For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25