After going down big in the first half, the Virginia Cavaliers came storming back in the second only to come up short in devastating fashion against the Iowa Hawkeyes, 75-74.
The Virginia defense was stout early, forcing a turnover on the first Hawkeye possession of the game. Nevertheless, Iowa was able to hit shots as Jordan Bohannon hit an early three. A tough finish through contact for Kadin Shedrick on the previous possession meant that the score sat at 3-2 two minutes in.
A ticky-tacky foul call on Kadin Shedrick sent the sophomore big man to the bench early as Francisco Caffaro took his place. Yet, in his absence, Francisco Caffaro grabbed a big offensive board and knocked down a pair of free throws after being fouled on his put-back.
The Hawkeyes continued to hit tough shots despite stellar defense from the ‘Hoos. Another three from Bohannon off an offensive rebound followed up by an easy layup for Keegan Murray against a far shorter Kihei Clark made the score 14-6 in Iowa’s favor through five and a half minutes of play.
Jayden Gardner scored his first bucket of the game out of the first media timeout of the game, while fellow transfer Armaan Franklin registered his first points of the night a few possessions later to put the score at 16-10. UVA continued to gain its footing offensively as Reece Beekman took the ball to the rack before Kihei Clark did the same thing the following possession to cut Virginia’s deficit to four points.
The Wahoo offense stalled out for a few minutes after that while Iowa found its groove again to take a 25-16 lead at the eight-minute media timeout.
The next two minutes would prove killer as, despite a Taine Murray triple, the Hawkeyes took a 14-point lead off a pair of threes and a put-back off an offensive board. That was where the game got out of hand. A lineup of Beekman, Clark, Murray, Stattmann, and Caffaro was exploited to no end before Tony Bennett sent in reinforcements in the form of the two transfers.
Yet, that didn’t stop the bleeding as Iowa took its biggest lead yet at the 3:39 mark, 40-19. The ‘Hoos were at least eventually able to cut Iowa’s lead to 14 points off a 6-0 run in the final 1:41 of the half with the score sitting at 44-30 after the first twenty minutes.
Virginia carried that momentum on into the first few minutes of the second half as the ‘Hoos brought the lead down to ten points after Jayden Gardner hit his first triple of the season. A second straight three-ball from Gardner in the same exact spot matched one from Bohannon on the other end.
While the deficit was still ten points at 51-41 at the 16-minute media timeout, there was clearly a pep back in UVA’s step as the offense began to hum and the defense remained consistent despite some tough buckets from the Hawkeyes.
Virginia kept knocking and got the lead down to nine points yet couldn’t quite put together enough stops as Iowa’s advantage ballooned out to 11 at the 12-minute mark.
But, the ‘Hoos wouldn’t go away especially after Kadin Shedrick started to make his presence felt. Off a tip in from the Raleigh native, Virginia made the score 61-55 with 8:27 remaining in regulation. The game continued to be a back-and-forth affair from then on.
With just over six minutes to go, Jayden Gardner corralled a big offensive rebound and finished the putback to bring the contest back within five-points. A crowd-erupting alley-oop dunk from Shedrick off a picture perfect lob from Kihei Clark made it a one-score game for the first time since early in the first half.
Unfortunately, despite all that, a put-back layup from Iowa’s Filip Rebraca and an all too familiar alley oop flush for Keegan Murray gave Iowa a seven-point lead at the under-four minute timeout. A huge basket off a baseline drive for Taine Murray gave Virginia life before Rebraca abused Shedrick in the post to take the advantage back to seven.
Beekman drove to the hoop for a score before Rebraca once again went to work on Shedrick. Yet, two missed free throws canceled out any advantage gained there.
A massive three from Taine Murray brought the ‘Hoos within two points and the game went under the two minute mark. Another Murray three gave Virginia its first lead in ages. But, a triple from Bohannon in response gave Iowa the lead once again.
Kihei Clark proceeded to show off his big game chops with a clutch pull up three with 45 seconds remaining to give Virginia the lead once more. The ‘Hoos got a huge stop on the proceeding defensive possession with Murray grabbing the defensive rebound. However, in a rare moment that reminded fans of his youth, the Kiwi missed the front end of a one-and-one which meant Iowa had a chance to win the game with the ball and under 30 seconds left.
A jump ball forced by Reece Beekman stalled the Hawkeye attack. But, with possession remaining with Iowa, the Hawkeyes remained in control. Joe Toussaint proceeded to crush the dreams of a thrilling comeback victory with a clutch floater with eight seconds left. A miss from Kihei Clark on the other end put the coffin in the ‘Hoos chances with Kadin Shedrick’s put-back attempt being blocked.