With an opportunity to go play in Madison Square Garden in the NIT semifinals, the Virginia Cavaliers lost a discouraging game to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 52-51. This puts an end to the Wahoos’ 2021-2022 season.
Virginia chokes away a chance at Madison Square Garden
Virginia made plenty of late mistakes against North Texas on Sunday that gave the Mean Green too many opportunities to pull out the late win. The ‘Hoos got lucky to pull out that win. They weren’t so fortunate this time around.
Armaan Franklin — despite hitting a few clutch threes — missed the second of his two free throws with 30 seconds left before Jayden Gardner missed the front end of a one-and-one with 18 seconds remaining. Those two misses were absolute killers for UVA and meant that the Bonnies got a chance to win the game.
Additionally, Virginia’s inability to get a good shot off in the final seconds when down by one was disappointing. Kihei Clark did the best he could to drive the hoop but it would’ve been nice to see a cleaner design perhaps for a more open jump-shot to win with the clock winding down.
Good shooting goes to waste
For the second consecutive game, Armaan Franklin came up clutch. His two threes in the final minutes pulled the ‘Hoos away from the Bonnies. The Indiana transfer also hit two in the first half and another early in the second as he played a more complete game than when he scored 17 points in a row against North Texas.
Franklin has come along as a shooter this season as he has hit 17 of his last 37 long balls stretching back to the Florida State game on February 26th. While that isn’t much consolation for the loss, it’s at least encouraging that he ended the season on a good note.
The other side of the coin is how UVA still failed to come out with the win despite Franklin’s five threes. This team needed shooting all season long yet when it arrived the offense still was lacking.
St. Bonaventure runs the floor and wins with a group of iron-men
Of course, the Bonnies deserve credit for winning this game. Scoring 11 points in transition gave them a boost and they just made enough plays late to exploit Virginia’s mistakes. St Bonaventure played four guys for the entire game.
Admittedly, there were some late calls that even Tony Bennett questioned after the game that hurt UVA late. Most notably the fifth foul on Reece Beekman with 1:38 remaining was an iffy whistle and seemed like a flop from the Bonnies. Bennett also questioned the foul call on Kadin Shedrick at the rim that allowed the Bonnies to pull ahead with two free throws with just over five seconds left.
An up and down season comes to a disappointing conclusion
While the NIT was never the goal for this team, making a run to the tournament’s final four and playing Madison Square Garden with a shot at winning it would’ve been a nice consolation. Alas, that wasn’t to be for the ‘Hoos as they fell in the tournament’s quarterfinals — just as they did back in 2013 with another up-and-down
This group struggled with consistency all year long and this loss was a microcosm of those struggles and it’s a tough way to go out considering the optimism that was building over the last few games.