After a dominant 89-54 win over Townson on Wednesday, the Virginia Cavaliers fell to the San Francisco Dons 61-60 on Friday. UVA struggled from behind the arc while only making 3 three pointers, while USF sunk 13 during the game.
Justin McKoy scored the first 5 points of the game, but shortly after UVA entered a dry spell. An 11-0 run for the Dons made it 14-11 San Francisco with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Free throws by several Hoos and the pack line defense helped UVA stay in the game despite only making 1 of 16 field goals for a stretch in the first half. Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz led the offense for the Dons, and finished with 19 and 14 points, respectively. At one point, they had 13 of their team’s 19 points.
A nice baseline drive by Kihei Clark led to a corner triple from Reece Beekman, and then Beekman scored again on a fast break layup later in the first half. The freshman Beekman was a bright spot in the loss, finishing with 11 points on 5-6 shooting and providing the energy the Hoos lacked. UVA closed out the second half on a 9-2 run to go up 24-21 at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, USF went on an 11-0 run. The Hoos looked slower and showed frequent signs of frustration with negative body language. UVA was able to respond with an 8-0 run thanks to Reece Beekman and Justin McKoy, who finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds in a solid performance.
In addition to Shabazz and Bouyea, the Dons’ Dzmitry Ryuny and Taavi
Jurkatamm played well. Jurkatamm had a nice slip screen for a layup and made two clutch threes at the end of the game to help his team pull out the win.
Tomas Woldetensae, the team leader in three pointers last year, only played 10 minutes in this game, but contributed 5 points while making both of the shots he took. UVA relied heavily on him last year due to a lack of depth, but Tony Bennett played 10 different players in this contest.
Every time it looked like UVA might pull ahead, San Francisco responded. Khalil Shabazz completed a 4 point play with 8:08 left to make it 44-43 UVA, and then the Dons led 51-48 with 5 minutes remaining.
Sam Hauser was quiet for most of the game with only 2 points in the first half, but scored 8 points in a four minute span late in the second half. UVA has high expectations for him after transferring from Marquette and scoring 19 points in his debut against Towson.
The difference in the game came down to three point shooting. USF made 2 of their 13 three pointers in the final few minutes of the game to go up 61-54 with 2:06 remaining. UVA managed to climb back using shots by Beekman and McKoy and free throws by Kihei Clark to pull within one. After San Francisco missed the front end of a one and one, the Hoos had the chance for the game winning shot with about nine seconds remaining down 61-60. Jay Huff passed up an open look to get the ball to Sam Hauser, who missed an off balance three pointer just before the buzzer, and San Francisco earned the major upset over the #4 team in the country.
UVA wasn’t fully in sync offensively or defensively during the game. The Hoos only had 5 assists on the day and frequently took high difficulty shots and off balance layups. On defense, a lack of communication on switching allowed the Dons to have a lot of open three pointers, and this was especially noticeable in the last five minutes of the game.
A loss to an unranked team early in the season can be an opportunity for growth for a team like UVA, who did not seem to be fully locked into the game the way Tony Bennet’s teams usually are. They will look to rebound against St. Francis University on December 1st at 4 pm.