Charlottesville, VA- The Virginia 2013 squad faced the same discouragement that this year’s team felt before facing off against Miami last night. With an unprecedented 35-point loss to an unranked Tennessee in 2013, Virginia found itself searching for what went wrong and it took Malcolm Brogdon’s leadership back then to regroup. After suffering a 24-point romp at Chapel Hill, Brogdon’s presence at JPJ on Monday night seemed to encourage Virginia to move on from their losing streak, until the last four minutes. UVA has now lost four straight games, as the Miami Hurricanes won in overtime 54-48.
Virginia’s three point woes carried over from the 10% showing at UNC. A challenging first half with only one three by Devon Hall gave way to a Virginia offensive comeback in the second. Sparked again by Hall’s second three of the night and a series of turnovers by the Canes allowed Darius Thompson inside the lane and the Hoos built a small lead, which they held on to for 29 minutes. It started to look promising that Virginia would break their streak.
But with one minute remaining, the “not again” feeling crept into the players and fans, as Miami’s DJ Vasiljevic hit a three pointer to tie the game at 41. A foul by Devon Hall gave Bruce Brown an opportunity to take the lead at the free throw line. Brown made both shots, giving the Canes only their second lead of the half at 43-41.
With precious seconds ticking off the clock, Virginia’s Isaiah Wilkins was knocked down hard and fouled by Anthony Lawrence. He looked up and said a little prayer of thanks, after making his two free throws to keep the game tied at 43 with only four seconds remaining.
Pure disbelief stunned JPJ when Miami’s Davon Reed hit a contested three pointer at the end of regulation. Despite Miami’s celebration, the officials overturned the call to the relief of Virginia.
In overtime, the Hoos started out on a good note with a third three by Hall, the only player on the team who made a three-point field goal that night. Two fouls by Mamadi Diakite gave four free throws to Miami, who led by one with a minute to go.
Guarding three point shots seems to still haunt Virginia as Miami’s Bruce Brown banked in the three that would ultimately lose the game for UVA.
What happened during these last four minutes that killed Virginia’s offense? It did not help that Perrantes, their leading scorer averaging 12 points per game, was held to just four points.
When asked what he thought was the cause, Perrantes stated, “ I wish I knew what was getting me out of rhythm, so I could fix it.”
Coach Bennett’s team has not faced a losing streak like this since the 2009-2010 season where they dropped eight consecutive games. Bennett now challenges his team to handle this “life” situation that is different from their usual success.
In the locker room, Bennett asked his team, “What are you going to do? We’ll take our day off, are you going to show up and come back and prepare and work and get as ready as you can for NC State? That’s your option. Or are you going to sulk and care about what people say?”
On a celebratory night, the Hoos suffered a frustrating loss. But just as Brogdon picked his team up, Virginia can now collect itself and reignite their offense. If they can do that, they may have a shot in their last three regular season games.