The Virginia Cavaliers advanced to the finals of the Roman Legends Classic Monday evening with 65-55 win over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Hoos were able to rise to the occasion late in the second half to run away with the game, because when the moment is right, you’ve got be ready. With Roman as the title sponsor of the tournament, there were a lot of jokes thrown around.
But that’s not the point of this recap.
The ‘Hoos started slow offensively but with a few aggressive drives from Armaan Franklin and a transition layup off a steal for the Indiana transfer got Virginia going. Off those six points, UVA sat tied with the Bulldogs, 6-6 at the under-16 minute media timeout.
An open three from Franklin in transition and then another fast break bucket for Beekman off yet another steal got the ‘Hoos up 11-6 and forced Tom Crean to use his first timeout. Franklin continued to go to work out of the stoppage with a tough bucket.
A pair of threes from Georgia’s Jailyn Ingram brought the Bulldogs back into the game with the score at 15-14.
Igor Milicic Jr. quickly made his presence felt with a triple of his own to put the Wahoos up by four with just under ten minutes remaining in the first half. But, Georgia responded quickly and tired the game up at 20 apiece before the eight minute mark off a Christian Wright jumper.
Neither team scored for a minute and a half before Kihei Clark got on the scoreboard for the first time with a three-pointer from a step beyond the line. A Jayden Gardner jumper from the free throw line preceded a 6-0 run from the Bulldogs which gave Georgia its first lead since the 16- minute mark.
Gardner scored again off a sweet pass from Beekman before Clark made a layup followed up by forcing a foul with two seconds left in the half and converting two free throws. But, as Georgia started to get in a rhythm offensively, the Bulldogs pulled back ahead. A valid but questionable foul call on a three-quarter-court heave by Jaxon Etter gifted the Bulldogs two more points to take a 34-31 lead into halftime.
Virginia came out hot in the second half with a 7-0 run to take back a 38-34 lead, with the Dawgs held scoreless in the first four and a half minutes of the second half.
With six lead changes in six minutes — blazingly fast by Virginia’s tempo standards — the second half was action-packed (again, by Virginia standards!). Virginia used a six-point run to kick off the final five minutes of the game, and though Georgia hung around to keep it exciting, the game was never in question after that.
Virginia faces the winner of Northwestern and Providence tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN 2 for the championship game.