Having just become the 8th player in Virginia men’s basketball history to have his number retired, Milwaukee Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon said in tonight’s pregame ceremony at John Paul Jones Arena, “Let’s get this win.”
Try as they might, Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers couldn’t get it done, dropping a 54-48 overtime decision to the visiting Miami Hurricanes. UVA, which had not lost more than three games in a row since Tony Bennett’s first season with the program, has now dropped four straight to fall to 18-9 overall and 8-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
UVA certainly had opportunities to claim a victory Monday night. A 12-0 run in a span of two minutes and 27 seconds vaulted the home team a 35-26 second half lead at the 12:04 mark.
“We were defending well and running our offense well,” Bennett said, discussing the 12-0 run. “There was good movement. We don’t throw it in the post to score but that’s why I mentioned we got a couple off the curls where we dropped it down. Devon [Hall] hit a three. We just got good looks, good action and the ball was going in, combined with stingy defense, that’s our formula. Then there were a couple turnovers, a couple of plays on their part and a couple of turnovers. You add in the missed free throws, that hurt. I thought that was a big swing when we could have pushed it out to maybe ten points at that point.”
An Isaiah Wilkins steal gave UVA possession and a 7-point lead (41-34) at 3:13. But Virginia’s next five possessions resulted in two missed shots, two missed free throws, and two turnovers. Miami, which was stymied by a tenacious Cavalier defense for most of this game, took full advantage, using a 9-0 run to grab a 43-41 lead with 27 seconds left in front of a stunned home crowd. Virginia needed two Wilkins free throws with four seconds left to send the game to overtime.
A Hall 3 on the first possession of overtime got Virginia off to a great start. But just as before, the Cavaliers couldn’t capitalize on multiple chances to extend the lead, instead leaving their opponent in the game. In fact, the Hoos wouldn’t score again until a Marial Shayok put-back gave them a 48-47 lead with 38 seconds left.
Freshman Bruce Brown answered with a clutch 3 — one of only four 3s Miami hit all game — to give his team a 50-48 lead with 19 seconds left. Virginia couldn’t answer and Miami added four free throws to secure the win, its 19th of the season.
For Virginia, the loss wastes what was a stout defensive effort. Miami made just 36.6% of its shots and was 21.1% from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers once again failed to make the plays necessary to win, however. The Hurricanes made 20-of-22 free throws compared to a 13-of-20 effort from the home team. In the second half the Wahoos missed the front end of a 1-and-1 three times (the first, by London Perrantes, could have put UVA up 10) and then missed two free throw attempts in overtime. UVA had six more field goal attempts than Miami in the extra period, missing 7-of-9 including 1-of-3 from 3.
Three players finished with double-digit points for Miami, including Brown with 14, DJ Vasiljevic with 10, and Kamari Murphy with 10. Hall led Virginia in scoring with 15 points while Wilkins had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Perrantes’ recent slump continued. In the past four games, Virginia’s star point guard has made only 16-of-58 field goal attempts (27.6%). The senior has made only seven 3s in 35 attempts (20%) in UVA’s past five games.
“I wish I knew what was getting me out of rhythm so I could fix it,” said Perrantes, who scored just 4 points on 2-of-15 shooting against Miami. “I’m in a pretty deep slump right now and I need to figure it out and find a way to get over it.”
The loss leaves UVA searching for answers heading into a crucial away contest against NC State Saturday at noon. A few days rest awaits the team, although at least one player is ready for the next challenge.
“To be completely honest, I’m ready to get back to another game,” Hall said. “That’s four in a row. That’s frustrating. I think a lot of us are just ready to get back and compete again.”