The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Virginia’s season closes in heartbreaking fashion with ugly loss to Colorado State

Coach Tony Bennett’s squad experienced yet another frigid shooting performance and a brutal defeat against the Rams

<p>Although desperation had fallen upon the few Cavalier faithful in attendance in Dayton, graduate forward Jordan Minor powered his way into the action.</p>

Although desperation had fallen upon the few Cavalier faithful in attendance in Dayton, graduate forward Jordan Minor powered his way into the action.

After barely making the NCAA Tournament as one of the penultimate seeds Sunday, Virginia (23-11, 13-7 ACC) had to round up the troops and head to Dayton, Ohio for their opening matchup Tuesday night against Colorado State (26-10, 10-8 MW) in the First Four. From the moment of tipoff, frayed offensive schemes and Colorado State’s unceasing guard play meant that the forecast remained dire the whole way for the Cavaliers — they fell 67- 42 in one of the least competitive games in Virginia’s recent tournament memory.

Many in the college basketball community had maligned the Cavaliers’ entry into the field of 68 not only for their questionable performance in key matchups but also for play that has the potential to lull viewers to sleep. They got a glimpse of their worst fears as soon as sophomore guard Ryan Dunn muscled his way through the opening tip, as a sleepy run through cluttered plays on their opening possession resulted in a shot clock violation.

Strong defense from Dunn kept the game scoreless until he was able to make a jump shot for what would become Virginia’s only lead of the game. Dunn then continued to dominate, as he gathered a rebound, kept Colorado State’s post game silent and added the second bucket for the Cavaliers with a floater off of a pass from junior guard Taine Murray. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, nobody else seemed to find any luck from the field. The rest of the team missed a staggering nine shots to begin play — finally finding refuge from the scoreless streak with sophomore guard Isaac McKneely putting up a quickfire three-point shot coming off of an off-ball screen at the top of the key and finding the bottom of the net. 

Three missed shots in the early minutes came courtesy of Virginia’s X-factor — senior guard Reece Beekman. Although he had tipped a pass that was corralled by sophomore guard Andrew Rohde and was leading the charge on the defensive side of the ball, a crazed, heavily contested take to the rim as well as two missed jumpers did not prove successful.

It wasn’t long before he found his rhythm, however, as he used the possession following the McKneely three-pointer to craft a path down the baseline that ended in style with a reverse layup. When Virginia regained possession, he cleared enough space to get the ball to McKneely on the wing for a crucial made shot from beyond the arc. 

Beekman then found himself in what has been a precarious position all season long for the Cavaliers, at the free throw line. He made both comfortably, however, raising hopes for Cavalier fans that would almost immediately dissipate. After a floater attempt by graduate forward Jake Groves that completely missed the rim, the Cavaliers missed their next 13 shots in a streak that was disheartening and downright impossible for viewers to watch. The Rams took advantage of this opportunity to jump out to a 13-point lead as the clock struck zero to conclude the first half.

The second half was much of the same for the Cavaliers, as they continued to string together missed shots. They were scoreless for just over 12 minutes between their cold end to the first half and the beginning of the second, and 52 minutes of real time passed before Virginia scored again. 

Beekman finally made a jumper to revive the offense slightly. It all began to be too much for Bennett’s squad, however, as their defense began to crumble against lights-out shooting from the likes of graduate forwards Joel Scott and Patrick Cartier as well as graduate guard Josiah Strong. Beekman continued to be the only man to provide any hint of an offensive spark for Virginia with a fearsome drive to the basket that got him 2 points and a foul.

With just over 12 minutes left on the game clock, the score sat at a lopsided 42-21 with no hope in sight for what was now a dejected amalgamation of players on the court, barely seeming to resemble the team that had earned their third seed and a semifinal appearance in the ACC Tournament mere days before. 

Although desperation had fallen upon the few Cavalier faithful in attendance in Dayton, graduate forward Jordan Minor powered his way into the action, backing down a defender in the post to record a successful hook shot, then fighting for a quick steal on the other end that he turned into a fast-break dunk.

The end was getting close in the Cavaliers’ sights when their defense completely broke down, with the Rams’ backcourt continuing to add points and Virginia resorting to scrappy play when they did manage to prevent an uncontested look at the rim or an open jump shot. When all was said and done, the Cavaliers had been subjected to a 67-42 rout, disappointing Cavalier fans far and wide that were, unfortunately, far from surprised at the outcome. 

“I think you saw tonight, when teams really make it hard on Isaac and Reece, it’s tough. We’ve had a number of games where we’ve gotten beaten handily,” Bennett said in the postgame press conference. “Credit goes to Colorado State. They’re a hard-nosed, tough defensive team. They run their stuff well.”

Now, as the season has officially closed its doors on Bennett and his squad, it is time for reflection on what was a season that is difficult to put into words, nerve wracking in its many successes and equally jaw-dropping in the unparalleled depths to which they stooped in their failures. 

Prominent pieces like Beekman, Minor and Groves are departing after their last year of eligibility. Dunn will likely be selected in this year’s NBA Draft, and many familiar faces may find new homes elsewhere through the transfer portal. There is no doubt that the team that will grace the floor of John Paul Jones Arena next year will have an entirely new look. 

It's impossible to ascertain the image of what this squad could become next season, but one thing is certain — returning players that witnessed the performance Tuesday night will have these horrors running through their head until they walk back into JPJ in the fall. Maybe, that could be just the motivation they need to get this Cavalier team back on track.


Latest Podcast

Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.