Take all of the good things that Virginia did against Towson on Wednesday, and imagine the opposite of that. San Francisco, which was playing its third game in as many days, looked energetic and locked in as they drilled 13 threes en route to a 61-60 upset of No. 4 Virginia. The Hoos only made three threes in the game, and looked absolutely listless on both ends of the court.
Virginia fell behind seven with 2:11 to play, but had a chance to win it at the buzzer after San Francisco missed the front-end of a 1-and-1. Sam Hauser’s three would rim out, and that would give San Francisco its first win over a top-5 team since 1981 (Wichita State).
The pack line defense is designed to make teams settle for threes, but too often Virginia players got lost defensively and gave the Dons wide open looks that they converted.
Virginia showed the rust many expected in the opener, struggling to mesh well on either end of the court. After a nearly 50% assist rate in the first game of the season, the Cavaliers only assisted five of 21 made baskets. Ball rotation was not good, and it often got stuck as the Hoos settled for contested drives.
It isn’t full panic time as this is inarguably the weirdest off-season in recent history. Without exhibition games or scrimmages, Virginia is working out kinks on offense and defense. That said, the Hoos have to play significantly better on both ends of the court with challenging games against Michigan State and Villanova coming up.
Justin McKoy and Reece Beekman led the Hoos with 11 points apiece, followed by 10 from Hauser. Trey Murphy, who was electric on Wednesday, finished with four points, all from the free throw line. Virginia shot 41% from the field, one percentage point higher than the Dons’ 40%, but San Fran went 46% from beyond the arc to the Cavaliers’ 25%.
Jamaree Bouyea lit up the Virginia defense to the tune of 19 points, and Khalil Shabazz added 14.
McKoy, one of the few Cavaliers to not make a three against Towson, started the scoring off with a triple from the wing. He followed up with a floater in the lane, showing what he can bring offensively in addition to his tough defense. The Hoos would miss their next six shots from the field as San Francisco went on an 11-0 run to take a 14-11 lead with 10 minutes gone in the game. Morsell ended Virginia’s nearly five-minute scoring drought with a jumper, but the Dons answered to keep USF’s advantage at three.
Two free throws from Clark brought it back to a one-point game, but Shabazz canned another three for the Dons to make it 19-15 with 5:30 left in the half as the Cavaliers went absolutely ice cold from the floor. First year Reece Beekman hit a badly-needed three that was Virginia’s first FG in 10 attempts and put the Hoos back in front, 20-19.
A 9-2 run to end the half send Virginia into the halftime break leading 24-21, a bit of a shock after the way they played over the first 20 minutes.
Virginia shot just 28% from the field and 25% from three in the first half, led by McKoy and Beekman with five points apiece. Murphy, Hauser, and Huff — all of whom scored double-digits against Towson — combined for six points and 1-for-7 shooting from the floor (0-for-2 from three), with Huff taking no shots.
Morsell opened the second half with a step-back jumper, and Huff pushed the lead to seven with a gorgeous-if-not-awkward looking leaner. The Dons wouldn’t go away quietly, quickly scoring five points to keep within striking distance. San Fran’s sixth three-pointer of the game put the underdogs back up by one as Virginia’s offensive struggles continued. Another three pushed the Dons’ run to 11-0, outplaying the No. 4 team on both ends of the court.
Beekman kept Virginia in the game, contributing on the defense and putting points on the board. Woldetensae’s three with 9:06 left in the game was the first for Virginia since the 3:32 mark of the first half, and it gave the Hoos a 42-39 lead.
Virginia kept the Dons at bay until San Francisco’s 11th three of the game gave them a 51-48 lead with 5:30 to play. After two free throws from Clark, Hauser and Bouyea traded baskets before USF pushed the lead to seven. Points from Beekman, Clark, and McKoy cut the deficit to one, but the Hoos couldn’t close it out.
Next up, Virginia heads home to Charlottesville to play St. Francis at 4pm on December 1.