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Beekman buzzer-beater gives Virginia win over Syracuse in ACC quarterfinals

The Hoos emerge victorious in a back-and-forth, thrilling affair.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Virginia Syracuse Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

First year Reece Beekman came through in the clutch with a huge three as time expired to give Virginia a 72-69 victory over Syracuse in the ACC tournament quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. Beekman hadn’t hit a three since February 10th at Georgia Tech but stepped into a pure shot with just over a second left on the clock. It swished through, and the Hoos will now move on to face the winner of Miami and Georgia Tech on Friday night at 6:30pm.

Syracuse led by as many as 11 in the first half, but took just a three-point lead into the break. The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with no team leading by more than six. Sam Hauser led Virginia with 21 points, and Jay Huff notched a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds to go with four blocks. Trey Murphy had a big second half, scoring 11 of his 15 points after the break.

Kihei Clark also hit double digits, scoring 10 points and dishing six assists—including the one on Beekman’s game-winner.

As a team, Virginia shot 46% from the field and went 11-for-35 (31%) from three in the game. They scored a solid 1.2 points per possession and got 18 points in the paint against the Cuse zone.

Defensively, Syracuse was much hotter than in the January matchup as the Orange shot 42% from the field and 36% from three. Buddy Boeheim scored a career-high 31 points, and Quincy Guerrier added 14.

Syracuse will now have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday as they sit on the NCAA tournament bubble.

The game fit an already chaotic morning as news broke that Duke would have to withdraw from the ACC tournament as a result of a positive COVID-19 test within Tier 1 personnel. As a result, FSU moved onto the semifinals where they will play either Virginia Tech or North Carolina.

Virginia spotted Syracuse a 7-0 run to open the game, but used buckets from Murphy and Huff and a three from Clark to pull with two at 9-7. Hauser fouled Guerrier in the process of getting off a three, and the Cuse shooter easily made all three free throws. Woldetensae entered the game and immediately connected on a three, cutting Virginia’s deficit to two points. Syracuse rattled off an 8-4 run over the next minute as the Orange started the game 3-for-6 from three.

The Orange built as much as a 10-point lead as they took advantage on the offensive boards and off of Virginia turnovers. Hauser’s first make of the game cut the lead to 26-18, but Syracuse immediately responded with an easy make on an alley-oop.

Every time Virginia cut into the lead, the Orange responded on the other end. Huff and Hauser scored six-straight to cut the Cuse lead to three with 1:15 left in the first half. Syracuse led by as many as 11 in the first half, but Virginia finished on a 10-2 run to make it a 39-36 game at the break.

Huff was fantastic in the first half, scoring 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds. Virginia shot 45% from the field, but just 19% from three in the first 20 minutes, while the Orange went a blistering 5-for-12 (42%) from three.

The Orange were active on the offensive glass, grabbing six offensive boards and turning them into 12 second chance points. Buddy Boeheim led Syracuse with 15 first half points on 5-for-9 shooting (3-for-4 from three).

Murphy tied the game at 39 with a three from the corner, and Hauser gave the Hoos their first lead on the next possession with his second three of the game. Boeheim ended a 6+ minute scoring drought that spanned half time with a difficult two over Beekman, cutting Virginia’s lead to one.

A steal-and-scamper by Clark led to a transition bucket, but five-straight points by the Orange gave Syracuse a two-point lead once again. Hauser tied things at 46-all with an easy-lay-in wide open under the basket. Joe Girard’s first bucket of the game gave Cuse the lead right back, but Woldetensae answered with one of his own from the corner.

Huff found Hauser again for an easy layup, but Virginia couldn’t capitalize off of a Syracuse shot clock violation as Murphy’s three attempt rattled off the rim. Great ball movement led to another Clark three, giving Virginia a four-point lead with just over 10:30 to play. Back-to-back buckets by Cuse tied things up yet again as Virginia couldn’t pull away.

Huff was called for an absolutely terrible offensive foul that negated a McKoy bucket, and a Dolezaj follow on the other end put Cuse up by two. Hauser responded with two free throws to knot things up with just under six minutes remaining.

Both teams hit threes to keep things even, but Murphy connected on a huge three from the wing with 3:30 left to give Virginia another narrow three-point lead. Boeheim got a two to go, but another three from Murphy — this one from the corner — put Virginia up 65-61. Murphy got involved on the defensive end by picking off a back-door pass, giving Virginia a chance to build its lead further. Hauser would oblige with a long-two, giving the Hoos their largest lead of the game with just over two minutes left.

Boeheim got a quick two, and the Syracuse pressure forced a turnover and an easy bucket that made it a two-point game in the blink of an eye. Virginia broke the press, and Murphy converted two free throws to make it 69-65 with 1:18 remaining.

Four straight free throws tied things up, but Virginia got to hold for the final shot. The rest was history.