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No. 16 men’s basketball advances with buzzer beater win against Syracuse

The Cavaliers knocked off the Orange 72-69 in their first game of the ACC tournament

<p>Freshman guard Reece Beekman's three-pointer could not have come at a more crucial moment for Virginia.&nbsp;</p>

Freshman guard Reece Beekman's three-pointer could not have come at a more crucial moment for Virginia. 

Coming off of a thrilling win against Louisville on March 6 that locked up the ACC regular season title for Virginia, the top-seed Cavaliers (18-6, 13-4 ACC) prepared to take on Syracuse on Thursday. The Orange (16-9, 9-7 ACC) came into the game as the No. 8 seed in the ACC following an impressive 89-68 victory against NC State the previous day.

As the quarterfinal match-up tipped off, it was Syracuse that struck first blood following a turnaround jump shot by junior guard Buddy Boeheim. From there, the Orange took command and built their lead up to 9-2 before a putback layup by senior forward Jay Huff and a three-pointer from junior guard Kihei Clark stymied their run.

The scoreline remained tight for the next few minutes until Syracuse managed to separate once again with a seven-point run to go up 24-14 around the 10-minute mark. The Orange managed to maintain the lead at 37-26 as Boeheim continued his stellar shooting from beyond the arc. 

However, while Syracuse had built up their largest lead of the game at that point, Virginia clawed back into it. A pull-up jumpshot from senior forward Sam Hauser appeared to ignite the Cavalier run with Huff completing an and-one opportunity a few possessions later to make it 39-33.

To conclude the first half, freshman guard Reece Beekman found Hauser on the three-point line to cut further into the Orange lead, 39-36. Heading into the locker room, Huff led Virginia with 13 points and eight rebounds while Boeheim was the leading scorer for Syracuse with 15 points. 

Both teams shot a similar percentage from the floor in the first frame, Syracuse 13 of 30 with field goals and Virginia at 13 of 29.

Just over a minute into the second half, junior guard Trey Murphy tied things up at 39-39 after connecting on a three-pointer. Hauser followed up Murphy with a three of his own to give Virginia their first lead of the game at 42-39.

It was a 16-2 run spanning back to the opening half that allowed the Cavaliers to take command as Boeheim put an end to the run, making a tough shot over Beekman. From there, the two squads remained neck and neck as Virginia eventually led 54-50 — their largest lead of the day.

As the clock ticked under 10 minutes to play in regulation, sophomore forward Quincy Guerrier dug deep for the Orange and made two difficult shots to tie the game back up at 54 a piece.

A number of sequences later, a layup from senior forward Marek Dolezaj catapulted the Orange back in the lead. While a pair of free throws and a three-pointer by Hauser placed the Cavaliers ahead momentarily, Boeheim responded with a massive shot from downtown that brought the score to 59-59.

A pair of three-pointers courtesy of Murphy, in addition to a jumper by Hauser, put Virginia ahead 67-61 with less than two minutes to play. However, following a Syracuse timeout, Boeheim delivered on a tough shot to tighten up the score.

The Orange quickly transitioned to a press defense that forced a Cavalier turnover. After the steal, Guerrier slammed it down to pull within two points. After Murphy connected on two free-throws, Boeheim made two trips to the line himself in which he made all four attempts.

Deadlocked at 69-69, Virginia coach Tony Bennett called a timeout with 28 seconds remaining in regulation. Coming out of the timeout, Clark found Beekman wide open on the three-point line with a single second to go.

The freshman guard rose to the occasion and delivered a monumental triple to seal the win, 72-69. 

Hauser was the leading scorer for Virginia on the day with 21 points while Huff posted a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. For Syracuse, Boeheim had a career day, scoring 31 points, including five three-pointers.

Next up, the Cavaliers will take on the winner of the match-up between Georgia Tech and Miami. The semifinal game is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

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