Twice Tony Bennett made the long walk across the court and into the tunnel leading to the Virginia locker room. Both times he was shaking his head.
At halftime, he was laughing off a fadeaway 3-pointer that kept Auburn within striking distance after a half the Cavs dominated.
After the game, he was lamenting another basket, this one a last-second tip-in that gave the Tigers a 68-67 victory.
While it's unlikely that either team needed this one for RPI purposes, both fought it to the finish in a battle of equals. It was the second game in a row for U.Va. in which a late comeback fell short at the buzzer.
"We're building up a fighting spirit," guard Sylven Landesberg said. "We kept fighting, it just didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. If we keep fighting like this, games will start finishing our way."
Down two with the ball, the Cavs put it in the hands of guard Sammy Zeglinski, who was fouled while attempting a game-tying 3-pointer.
After making the first two shots, Auburn called a timeout to ice him. In the huddle, the talk wasn't about the shot -- it was about what would happen in the next seven seconds defensively. Even Zeglinski was focusing in on what was next.
"I just do my routine every time I step to the line," he said. "Honestly, I was more worried about defense, about getting back."
Those fears proved prescient after he made the shot. Auburn's DeWayne Reed drove down the court, tossed up a shot from the paint, and missed, but with 1.4 seconds remaining, big man Brendon Knox tipped it in and won the game for the Tigers.
With no timeouts remaining, the Cavs' only option was a last-second heave that missed.
"We kind of feel a little empty right now," Bennett said. "Our guys fought back when they were down, they didn't die, but it's empty because you didn't come away with victory."
Sitting in a classroom outside the locker room, Landesberg gave credit to the Tigers for studying up at halftime and devising a plan to shut him down.
Auburn was sluggish in the first half -- perhaps feeding off a nearly-empty home crowd -- and allowed Landesberg to drive at will as he scored 17 points. They adapted in the second half, holding him to just three points -- all free throws. He was sent to the bench for Will Sherrill during a key sequence with 6 minutes remaining.
"They just started collapsing and stuff every time I was driving," Landesberg said. "I just wasn't getting good looks."
Zeglinski had the key play that got the team back in the game from an eight-point deficit, forcing a turnover near the Tigers bench that was scooped up by Jeff Jones, who took the ball the rest of the way for a layup.
Courtesy of Richmond Times-Dispatch