In the Virginia Cavaliers’ fourth and final game on their trip to Italy, the team took a redemptive, double overtime win over KK Mega Basket after losing to the same team by 19 points less than 24 hours ago.
As Jayden Gardner, Kadin Shedrick, and Armaan Franklin were the three Wahoos to sit out the final game, UVA had to largely rely on its young guns to fill the gaps in the rotation. The starters were Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman, Isaac McKneely, Ben Vander Plas, and Francisco Caffaro.
UVA got out to a quick lead in the first quarter as Clark and Beekman set the tone for the rest of the game. The two veteran point guards gave the ‘Hoos an 18-11 lead after the first ten minutes as the fifth year senior scored seven in the period while the junior added six and a pair of assists.
In the second stanza, freshmen McKneely and Isaac Traudt added some spice to the offense as the former finished the first half with eight points including a pair of triples and the latter added six tallies. Their contributions put Virginia up 10, 34-24 after the first twenty minutes of action. The pack line defense was particularly stingy after letting up twenty fewer points than in the first half of yesterday’s loss to KK Mega. Against a reinvigorated UVA defense, the Serbian team coughed the ball up numerous times and struggled to make the same shots it did yesterday.
Beekman scored eight third quarter points to bring his total up to 14, but the Serbians got things going a bit and pulled within five by the end of the third, 52-47. The fourth period of play was where things really got going. While UVA held a nine-point lead at one point in the final stretch of regulation, KK Mega pulled back into the game and tied things at 69-69 with a buzzer beater in order to send the game to overtime.
The back and forth nature continued in the first overtime period with free throw shooting proving particularly critical as either team missed opportunities to win the game. In the final seconds Beekman drew a foul and went to the line with the ‘Hoos down one. He made the first but missed the second attempt as the two squads headed into a second overtime.
From the jump of double OT, UVA had the upper hand as the Wahoo depth came up big. Clark followed up on Beekman’s strong performance in the first overtime by making a number of plays both as a scorer and a distributor to pull Virginia ahead by seven in the final minutes and then capitalize on a pair of free throws to put the game on ice.
Clark finished with 23 points while Beekman finished with 21 as an often offensively challenged backcourt carried UVA’s attack while Franklin, Gardner, and Shedrick remained inactive.
With the win, Virginia finishes its trip to Italy 3-1 and avenges yesterday’s loss. Winning this sort of attritional contest is significant for UVA especially considering the experience that the young guys got in the absence of three starters. And, of course, it’s quite encouraging to see Bennett’s pair of point guards showing off their experience and big game chops.
Stay tuned to this story and Streaking the Lawn for additional stats, notes, highlights, and takeaways from today’s big win.