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Hall boosts Cavaliers to upset victory

A 45-minute roller coaster of a game ended in elation for the Virginia men's basketball team Saturday night at University Hall as the Cavaliers came from behind to force overtime and earn a stunning 89-87 win against No. 17 Maryland.

The victory locked up a third-place Conference tie with North Carolina (19-10, 9-7 ACC) and placed the Cavs one step closer to their first NCAA Tournament berth in three years. Virginia, a team predicted to finish seventh in the Conference, earned the No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament. The Cavaliers will face No. 6 seed N.C. State Friday.

Maryland (22-8, 11-5) came in riding a nine-game ACC winning streak and held the lead for much of the evening, but Virginia's Adam Hall hit a three pointer with 25.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Cavs a one-point lead they would not relinquish.

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  • "When he shot it, I knew it was going in," Cavalier forward Chris Williams said. "It reminded me of last year when he hit a big shot against North Carolina. He's a clutch player."

    After Hall's three put Virginia up 87-86, Maryland shooting guard Juan Dixon missed a foul line jumper and the Terps were forced to foul Cavalier freshman Roger Mason Jr., a Maryland native who at one point during his senior year of high school thought he would sign with the Terrapins. Mason calmly drained two free throws to stretch the Cavalier lead to three with 10.6 seconds remaining.

    Terp freshman Steve Blake hit a free throw with 4.3 seconds left to cut the lead to two and then intentionally missed the second attempt, but Cavalier center Colin Ducharme capped off his best game since 1998 by grabbing the board to seal the win.

    "A phenomenal victory for our kids," Cav Coach Pete Gillen said. "Maryland has a great basketball team. If I had to play them for a living, I'd be selling ice cream cones in the Bronx."

    In their Feb. 2 meeting, Maryland defeated the Cavs handily in College Park, 91-79, as Terp center Lonny Baxter and preseason ACC Player of the Year Terence Morris combined for 42 points.

    This time around, the Terrapins' leaders were plagued with foul trouble, limiting their minutes and effectiveness. Baxter scored 11 points in only 16 minutes, while Morris had 15 in 25 minutes. Both fouled out, as did Maryland small forward Danny Miller, who chipped in a game-high 20 points.

    Cav freshman Travis Watson battled down low, picking up 15 points on several second chance opportunities. Watson helped the Cavaliers out-rebound Maryland by 15 after halftime. His five offensive rebounds led to 12 essential second-chance points for the Cavs. Watson took advantage of the Terp foul woes, going 11-for-17 from the charity stripe.

    "Travis Watson, in the last six minutes of the game, was unbelievable," Gillen said. "He got every loose ball, every rebound, every ball that was on the backboard. I had my contacts in, so I saw it clearly."

    Lackluster performances against Wake Forest and Florida State last week led Gillen to hold a short practice Saturday morning before the game to help the team regain its focus. The Cavs trailed for most of the game but never lost their intensity.

    The passion was evident when Hall and Blake were assessed technicals after a loose ball skirmish in the first half.

    "Even when we were down 12, we kept saying we were going to win this game no matter what," Williams said.

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