Blacksburg, Va.— Keve Aluma poured in 24 points and hit two clutch shots down the stretch as Virginia Tech held off rival Virginia 62-53 at a Cassell Coliseum on Monday night in front of an announced crowd of 9,825 for its sixth straight win.
Virginia Tech is looking to play their way into NCAA Tournament at-large consideration. The Hokies (16-10, 8-7 ACC) hasn’t lost since a three-point setback against Miami on Jan. 26.
The Cavaliers (16-10, 10-6) saw its winning streak snapped at four games. The Hokies limited the Cavaliers to 40 percent shooting and didn’t allow a 3-pointer in nine attempts.
“We’re playing the way I envisioned us playing,” Hokies coach Mike Young said. “This is what I expected all along.”
Jayden Gardner hit a jumper with just less than a minute left in the first half and Reece Beekman added two free throws to give the Cavs a 29-25 lead at the break.
Virginia Tech beat the Cavaliers at their own game, applying intense defense on the perimeter. The Hokies limited Virginia to 40 percent shooting from the field and didn’t allow a 3-pointer in nine attempts.
In seeing the end of its winning streak, Virginia (16-10, 10-6) was led by Jayden Gardner, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds. But in the second half, when the Hokies ratcheted up their defense, they harassed Gardner into three turnovers and 1-of-6 shooting.
Aluma inserted himself in the second half by dunking twice in the opening three minutes and his second one put VT ahead 32-31. Virginia managed to tie the contest twice in the half, but they could not retake the lead.
Kadin Shedrick led Virginia in the second half as he scored all 11 of his points in the final 11:03. When Shedrick slam-dunked with 6:53 left, it was tied at 44-all.
After Shedrick scored to get the Cavs in striking distance 54-50 with just less than three minutes left to play, Aluma found space in the middle of the key and threw down a rim rocker to push the Hokies’ lead back to six points. A minute later, he hit a turnaround baseline jumper to make it 58-50.
Aluma gave Virginia problems on both ends of the floor; he was 10 of 14 from the field and totaled 20 or more points for the eighth time this season. He also blocked four shots and the Hokies blocked six as a team. Nahiem Alleyne chipped in 11 points.
During a sequence early in the second half, the Hokies energized the crowd with four blocked shots, including two by Aluma, over a two minutes span.
Alleyne hit a deep 3-pointer as Tech took the lead for good.
“I think the crowd was a big factor,” Virginia Jayden Gardner said. “They really got into the game. They really made their mark and they gave them energy. Then they just kept going and we couldn’t stop the momentum.”
Gardner posted a double-double to lead Virginia, scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 boards. Kihei Clark finished 1 of 9 from the floor and missed all five of his 3-point attempts, finishing with two points.
Virginia plays at Miami on Saturday.
Virginia Tech is home on Saturday against North Carolina.