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Men’s basketball escapes with a 72-68 victory at Boston College

With postseason basketball on the horizon, the Cavaliers power through adversity and march on

<p>The regular season is waning fast for Virginia, as only two contests remain.</p>

The regular season is waning fast for Virginia, as only two contests remain.

In a season full of solid wins and ghastly losses, the Cavaliers (21-8, 12-6 ACC) seem to have found their path to victory. When Coach Tony Bennett’s squad scores 70 or more points in a game, the team is a perfect 10-0. Against the Eagles (15-13, 6-11 ACC), Virginia lit up the scoreboard through a stream of three-point shots and came away with the 72-68 win.

The first two minutes of the game saw zero points between both teams, before sophomore guard Isaac McKneely broke the dry spell with a jump shot inside the paint. A handful of baskets from senior guard Reece Beekman and an interlude three-point shot from McKneely led to an 11-2 Cavalier lead almost seven minutes into the game. While Boston College simply could not make their shots early on, graduate forward Quinten Post and junior guard Jaeden Zackery led a rising counterattack. Less than ten minutes later, Virginia held a slim 22-21 lead.

Beekman held the Cavaliers afloat though, making a two-point jump shot — followed by sophomore guard Ryan Dunn collecting his own miss and scoring on a second attempt. A layup by Eagle sophomore forward Devin McGlockton slimmed the lead back to 26-23, but a Dunn free throw sent Virginia into halftime with a 27-23 lead. 

Junior guard Claudell Harris Jr. missed a three-point shot, but an Eagle offensive rebound and subsequent Harris Jr. three-point shot erased over half of the margin. Quick to respond, graduate forward Jake Groves downed a three-point shot of his own. Groves was a starter over sophomore guard Andrew Rohde, as Bennett aimed for a taller defender. The decision paid off, as Groves added two more points on a layup to create a 32-28 lead. While the Virginia defense is notoriously tough, Boston College just could not hit the open shots.

As both teams exchanged misses, a frenzy of free throws ensued. Beekman, Zackery and Dunn all took trips to the free-throw line. Post soon took over though, dishing an assist that McGlockton viciously slammed down for a dunk. Bennett called timeout, and Virginia trailed for the first time all evening — with a score of 39-40.

Beekman was blocked by sophomore forward Prince Aligbe, but was fouled on the next possession and converted both free throws to retake a 41-40 lead. Misses by Harris Jr. and Dunn maintained a one-point game, but a dunk by freshman forward Blake Buchanan increased the Cavalier lead to three points. Post was then fouled and made both of his free throws to restore a one-point contest.

Dunn then collected a Cavalier miss and scored on a second attempt — but McGlockton was fouled on a successful layup and made the free throw to tie the game at 45-45. Once again, an exciting moment was anti-climatically followed by a couple of misses from both squads. With less than 10 minutes left though in the game, a rather lukewarm game turned into a high-scoring affair. Post took the lead on a layup, but Groves retook the lead with a clutch three-point shot. Zackery then regained the lead once again on a layup, and a Beekman turnover led to an Aligbe layup. Going into a TV timeout with a little over eight minutes left, Virginia trailed 48-51. 

In a crucial moment, though, McKneely refused to surrender — tying the game with a crucial three-point shot. After a Post miss, McKneely added another three-pointer to take a 54-51 lead. McGlockton was unable to counter, and Groves added a third consecutive Virginia three-point shot to take a commanding 57-51 lead — a lead that the Cavaliers would not relinquish. The final minutes of the game were marked by a flurry of free throws, and Virginia left Chestnut Hill, Mass., with a 72-68 victory. While McKneely led the offense, Beekman’s defense was crucial for the win.

“I hope people are seeing what’s happening for [Beekman’s] future, because it’s good and he knows how to play, and I think he’s underrated in so many ways,” Bennett said. 

The regular season is waning fast for Virginia, as only two contests remain. Before a home finale against Georgia Tech March 9, a road trip to Duke awaits Saturday. Another blowout loss could tank NCAA Tournament hopes, but a win could mark a complete transformation of a system marred with inconsistency. The highly anticipated rivalry game tips off at 6 p.m. on ESPN. 


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