Virginia beats Miami on the road to bolster its NCAA tournament resume


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That basket contributed in large part to Virginia (17-10, 11-6 ACC), which began the game 82nd in the NCAA’s net rankings, adding a third Quadrant 1 triumph to bolster what had been spotty NCAA tournament credentials entering the weekend.

“We talk about not yielding,” Cavaliers Coach Tony Bennett said. “We made plays down the stretch.”

The Cavaliers swept the regular season series against Miami (19-8, 11-5), won for the fifth time in six games and remained within reach of finishing among the top four in the conference during the regular season and receiving a double bye in the ACC tournament.

Kihei Clark scored 17 points, all in the second half, after finishing with just two in a 62-53 loss to Virginia Tech on Monday night, and Kadin Shedrick came off the bench to chip in 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for his third double-double this season.

The Hurricanes had four players score in double figures but never drew closer than three points in the final 1:06, during which time Virginia made 7 of 10 foul shots to secure a sixth consecutive victory against Miami and third in a row in Coral Gables.

Virginia shot 62.5 percent in the second half and 49 percent overall in addition to going 19 for 25 at the free throw line, attempting 16 more than the Hurricanes, who had a three-game winning streak end despite a 42-24 advantage in points in the paint.

Kameron McGusty led Miami with 20 points, and Jordan Miller had 15 on 7-for-11 shooting with six rebounds.

Virginia initially was unable to pull away after forging a nine-point lead early in the second half, allowing the Hurricanes to get within 53-51 with 9:08 remaining on a three-pointer from Charlie Moore, a dunk from Sam Waardenburg and a layup from Anthony Walker.

Trailing by 10 early in the second half, the Cavaliers came storming back thanks to Gardner and Clark sparking a 23-4 barrage that yielded a 53-44 lead with 12:16 to play. Clark began the comeback with a three-pointer from the left side in front of the Virginia bench and made another minutes later to put the Cavaliers in front.

Gardner, who has scored in a double digits in 10 straight games, followed with a jumper on a pass from Clark and added another midrange jumper before Bennett called a timeout. The Cavaliers got Clark’s three-pointer out of the stoppage, and Shedrick made 1 of 2 free throws when he was fouled stealing the ball.

Virginia trailed at halftime 38-30 after failing to score over the final 5:08 while missing all six of its field goal attempts. It also committed three turnovers that contributed to the Hurricanes’ 8-0 run that included a two-handed fast-break dunk from Walker off a lob pass from McGusty.

The collapse at the end of the first half overshadowed stretches of rigid defense, most notably when Virginia held Miami scoreless for nearly five minutes and rallied to take a 28-25 lead with 6:17 to play on Shedrick’s offensive rebound off his own miss and ensuing putback.

“It’s huge to come out here and win on the road,” said Gardner, a transfer from East Carolina who immediately joined the starting lineup and leads Virginia in scoring this season. “This team is resilient. We haven’t lost a back-to-back, after a loss, all year, so you know we’re going to bounce back.”

Here’s what to know about Virginia’s win:

Transition defense

When Virginia is executing the pack-line defense at its best, opponents especially struggle to score on the fast break. The Hurricanes, however, thrived in transition against the ACC’s top scoring defense, collecting 15 fast-break points, including 13 in the first half.

The second half began with the Cavaliers surrendering a fast-break basket when Gardner telegraphed an inbounds pass from underneath the backboard that McGusty intercepted and turned into an uncontested layup for a 40-30 lead with 19:20 to play.

Beekman steps up

Sophomore guard Reece Beekman, the Cavaliers’ top on-ball defender, held Moore, the Hurricanes’ third leading scorer, in check most of the game. Moore finished with 15 points but had just eight on 3-for-9 shooting heading into the final minute.

Beekman had six points, a team-high seven assists and four rebounds but committed a team-high four of the Cavaliers’ 11 turnovers that led to 11 points for Miami.

Moore and Beekman also each entered the game first and second, respectively, in the ACC in steals.

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