Sunday, July 21, 2024

Virginia cannot solve Duke in the ACC Championship Game



GREENSBORO, NC — With less than eight minutes left in Saturday night’s ACC Championship game, Virginia coach Tony Bennett hung his head and reluctantly called a timeout after Kyle Filipowski’s steal and dunk increased the Blue Devils’ lead to double digits.

The sequence was just one moment in an uncharacteristically poor performance by the second-seeded Cavaliers. This poor safety on the ball, combined with errant shooting that included eight missed layups, Virginia was sentenced to 59-49 Loss at Greensboro Coliseum.

The 13th-ranked Cavaliers’ hopes were dashed amid 16-for-48 shots (33.3 percent), including 4-for-17 three-pointers (23.5 percent), in a game where they had never led. They also hit a dozen turnovers, making this Virginia’s first double digit game in the past 12.

“I think they’re a good defensive team,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of the fourth seed Blue Devils. “They really came together that way. Their height and athleticism was real, and I think sometimes it speeded us up, and sometimes we were a little rushed.”

Junior guard Reese Beckman led Virginia with 12 points but committed a team-high four turnovers. Freshman guard Isaac McNeely scored 10 points and was the only other Cavaliers player to reach double digits for Virginia’s second-lowest point of the season.

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Jeremy Roach (Ball VI) finished with 23 points by going game-high 7-for-12 from the court, and outstanding freshman Filipowski added 20 points and 10 rebounds to propel the 21st-ranked Blue Devils (26-8) to their 22nd ACC championship, the most in history. conferences. Duke has won nine straight games since falling in overtime on February 11 in Charlottesville.

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Virginia took the lead 49-43 with 3:05 remaining on a McKneely three-pointer. But the Blue Devils answered with Roach’s three-point play before Kehey Clark’s steal led to a quick break by Beckman with 1:46 remaining.

Clark got the Cavaliers layup within 52-47, and Beckman made a pass after Filipowski hit 1 of 2 misspelled shots, cutting Duke’s lead to 53-49 with 46 seconds to play. The Blue Devils sealed the score by dropping six consecutive free throws in the final 40 seconds.

Duke’s 10-2 blowout trailed the Cavaliers by their biggest margin to that point, 36-22, with 14:34 left in the second half. Roach capped the race with a three-pointer. But Virginia answered with a three-point shot by Kaden Shedrick, who made a layup and fouled a third on Filipowski. Jayden Gardner followed by dunking a pass from Armaan Franklin to cut the lead to 36-27, forcing first-year Duke head coach John Scheer to call a timeout.

Loose possession in the first half held the Cavaliers trailing 24-17 at halftime. Virginia recorded seven turnovers in the first half after collecting six in each of the previous two games.

“Obviously we wanted to win this, but we’re playing for something bigger,” said McNeely. “So we’ll take the next couple of days off and then come right back at it. … The shot wasn’t going down like in the last two games, but I know once we got in [NCAA tournament] We’ll be ready.”

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Duke’s great length in the frontcourt confused the Cavaliers for most of the game, leading Virginia to a victory by just 20 points in the paint. This lack of production was in stark contrast to the team’s first meeting, when the Cavaliers managed 42 in a 69-62 overtime win at John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia scored 40 points in the paint during the quarterfinals on Friday with a 76-56 win over third seed Clemson.

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The combination of Filipowski and center Dereck Lively II, both 7 feet, prevented Virginia from finishing at the rim except sporadically. More often than not, the Cavaliers have had to settle for opposing players.

“Obviously we’re a little different without him [injured starter Ben Vander Plas]’ So we have to adapt to that, but I thought they were related to Jayden,” Bennett said. “And when Rhys or Keehi or Armaan walked in the aisle, there they were.”

Clark’s shooting continued to slip against the Blue Devils, who limited third-ranked Virginia to a 1-for-9 bid from the field. Clark finished with six points, three turnovers and shooting 14-for-55 in the past seven games.

Clark was seeking his first career-high ACC tournament championship that includes the 2019 NCAA title and three conference regular season crowns.

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Virginia was scheduled to travel to Charlottesville shortly after the ACC title game and will watch the NCAA Tournament selection show together Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena, athletics department officials said.

The Cavaliers are expected to be the No. 4 seed and could once again head to Greensboro for a 64th round. Other prospects have Virginia in Albany, New York, or Orlando in the first weekend.

“The effort was there, and this was a good experience to be involved in, and let’s use it,” Bennett said. “Totally learn from it and get ready to play” in the NCAA Tournament.