BLACKSBURG, Va. -Mike Scott turned his attention away from offense and toward being more of a team player. He wound up having the kind of all-around night that Virginia needed.
Scott scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Assane Sene made two big baskets in the final minutes Sunday night, leading Virginia to a 57-54 victory at Virginia Tech.
The Cavaliers (5-3, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), coming off a victory at No. 15 Minnesota in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, led throughout in beating Virginia Tech for just the second time in seven meetings, and the first time at Cassell Coliseum in five years.
"Just trying to make plays, be aggressive on the defensive boards," Scott said of his approach. "Basically having a different mindset than just trying to score to help my team."
The Hokies (4-4, 0-3) lost their third straight despite 26 points from Malcolm Delaney, and coach Seth Greenberg said the dominance of Scott made things tough for his team.
"Mike Scott basically kicked our tail in the first half and came up with two big plays down the stretch," Greenberg said.
One of them was beating Jeff Allen to a length-of-the-court pass, drawing an intentional foul call and making the free throws, starting a critical four-point possession for Virginia.
The other was keeping alive a missed free throw by Will Harris with 10 seconds left, and even though he subsequently missed a free throw with the Cavaliers ahead 57-54, Virginia Tech only had time to rush the ball down court, where Dorenzo Hudson's 3-pointer was off.
"We were leaking oil down the stretch, but had enough to come up with a big stop," second-year Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after his team's second solid victory in a row.
"Our guys scrambled well and kind of gutted it out," Bennett said.
The Hokies, meanwhile, continued struggling. They squandered a late lead in losing to No. 22 Purdue on Wednesday night, and have lost several games against quality opponents, the kind of games that matter when teams are hoping to get at-large NCAA tournament invites.
"It's small stuff that we're not doing," Delaney said. "Missing box-outs. I can remember four games where we missed that same box-out (on the free-throw line). We're a senior-laden team so we should remember that. When coach says in the huddle to make sure you get the rebound, then you've got to box your man out and get the rebound. It's just small stuff."
While Scott did most of the big damage for Virginia, Sene also came up with two key baskets — just his fourth and fifth field goals of the season. He scored inside with 3:47 to go, giving Virginia a 51-46 lead, and then again with 1:18 to play, making it 53-49.
Victor Davila's basket made it 53-51 with 19.4 seconds left, but Allen was called for an intentional foul on a breakaway for Scott, and he made both free throws. Virginia also got the ball, and Mustapha Farrakhan's two free throws with 16 seconds to play made it 57-51.
After Delaney's 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go, Harris missed the front end of a one-and-one. Virginia rebounded, but Scott also missed a free throw, giving the Hokies one last chance, but Dorenzo Hudson's 3-point try missed badly to end it.
Allen added 12 points for the Hokies, but no others Hokies scored more than five.
Harris, one of five freshman used in rotation by Bennett, scored 10.
Delaney, who suffered through a 2-for-18 shooting performance and turned the ball over in the final seconds in a 58-55 loss to Purdue on Wednesday night, looked once again like the ACC's top scorer. He had 14 by halftime, hit 10 of 15 shots and 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
The Hokies gradually chipped away at a 36-34 halftime deficit. A flying dunk by Terrell Bell cut it to single digits at 40-31, and Delaney's 3-pointer sparked a 7-2 burst that made it 44-38 with 12:06 to play. Delaney and Allen both added tip-ins during the run.
Harris' 3-pointer and reverse layup for Virginia came after a left-handed hook by Davila, keeping the Cavaliers ahead 49-40, but Allen scored inside, Delaney scored on a fast break and Davila fed Allen for a dunk — a 6-0 burst that made it 49-46 with 4:20 left.
It also was the closest the Hokies had been to the lead since the opening minutes.
The school let students in free, hoping to finish the weekend as successfully as it started. The 12th-ranked Virginia Tech football team won the ACC championship on Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C., beating Florida State 44-33 to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl.
About 20 members of the team, including game most valuable player Tyrod Taylor, appeared on the court to wild cheers at halftime and Taylor thanked the fans for their support.