The Yellow Jackets were held without a field goal for nearly the final 10 minutes in a 64-45 loss to No. 20 Virginia on Saturday.
“You’d be hard-pressed to watch us play and say we’re not playing hard,” said Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory. “I’m disappointed in the way it ended in those last seven minutes. The first 33, we did some good things.
“Our perimeter players didn’t rebound well enough for us. That’s just a fact. We need those guys on the glass, especially until Robert (Carter) gets back in to shape we have to gang rebound. The guards have to be engaged.”
Georgia Tech led 44-42 with 9:52 left after Kammeon Holsey completed a three-point play. That was the last basket the Yellow Jackets (12-12, 3-8 ACC) would score as they were outscored 22-1 down the stretch.
They missed their final nine shots and had just 15 points in the second half. Georgia Tech was 3-for-13 from the free throw line and was outrebounded 46-25.
Chris Bolden led the way with 13 points, 11 in the first half as Georgia Tech built a 30-29 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets lost 45-41 Tuesday at Clemson with just seven scholarship players. Two more returned to action against Virginia (19-5, 10-1), but leading scorer and guard Trae Golden had no points or assists, and forward Carter Jr. managed five points and two rebounds. Both players came off the bench.
Carter fumbled away a ball to lead to a pair of free throws by Malcom Brogdon for a 46-44 Virginia lead with 7:06 remaining. Moments later, Brogdon stole a pass by Georgia Tech center Daniel Miller and went to an uncontested dunk.
Tech called timeout with 6:37, trailing 48-44, and would never tie nor lead again in a game that saw 13 lead changes and six ties in the first 33 minutes.
“There were two or three turnovers where we didn’t even get shots up,” Gregory said. “We weren’t strong enough or tough enough on the offensive end in those last eight minutes.”
From the time Georgia Tech took a 41-37 lead on Carter’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 14:46 remaining, the Cavs outscored the Yellow Jackets 27-4.
“It really was something to see that happen,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of his team’s closing kick. (Tech is) out of sync with the injuries. I thought (Gregory) had them so ready . . .
“They had us reeling a little bit early, and I don’t know if when we got a little bit of a lead it changed, but Joe hit a big three in the corner and it just separated.”
A Joe Harris 3-pointer made the score 51-44. He and Anthony Gill added 11 points each for Virginia.
The Cavs also had a 27-8 edge in bench points. Bolden shot just 1-for-8 in the second half, and Georgia Tech shot 6-for-23 and made just 1-of-7 treys after halftime.
“It’s really tough. Tie game, and we’re thinking it’s going to go into the last two rounds (eight minutes) of battle,” Miller said. “A couple turnovers, a little mental lapse and they take over.
“If we had eight more minutes of mental toughness in us . . . it would have been a whole different story.”