Virginia rallies to beat Louisville 51-50 in ‘Knucklebuster Game’ in ACC Tournament

Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett talks with his team before they take on the...
Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett talks with his team before they take on the Louisville Cardinals in the second round of the 2022 New York Life ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on Wednesday, March 09,2022 in Brooklyn, N.Y.. (Photo by David Welker / Welker | Photo by David Welker /
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 12:28 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2022 at 1:54 AM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia men’s basketball team rallied from a 9-point deficit to defeat Louisville 51-50 in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday in Brooklyn, NY.

UVA won despite going 0-for-6 from three-point range, as the Wahoos’ defense limited Louisville to 35.7 percent shooting from the field (20-of-56), and 5-of-22 on three-point tries.

“We call it a ‘Knucklebuster Game,’” says head coach Tony Bennett. “That was a ‘Knucklebuster,’ and that’s all you can do. Sometimes that’s how it gets in tournaments. So we get to play tomorrow, and that’s a good thing.”

With the win, the Cavaliers advance to face North Carolina in the tournament quarterfinals.

Jayden Gardner scored a game-high 17 points for UVA against the Cardinals, while Kihei Clark added 15 points.

Reece Beekman had eight points and nine assists, and also grabbed five rebounds.

Head coach Tony Bennett says, “When you know you’re struggling in certain areas, do you have the wherewithal and identity to say, ‘We’re gonna rely on stops,’ and squeeze out a few points here and there, and try to go win a game.”

UVA trailed by as many as nine points in the 1st half, and they were down 24-20 at the break.

The Cavaliers took their first lead of the game (25-24) on a jumper by Gardner with 17:58 remaining in the 2nd half, and they opened the half on a 7-0 run.

The teams were separated by no more than three points for the remainder of the game, until Beekman drove to the bucket with 42 seconds remaining, giving UVA a 49-45 advantage.

Beekman says, “Coach Bennett actually drew up that play in the huddle. It was just, clear out, and make a play, and that’s what I did.”

After Gardner knocked down two free throws to put the ‘Hoos up by four with four seconds left, El Ellis connected on a long three-pointer with 0.1 second remaining to provide the final score.

Clark says, “I thought we did a good job. We had a couple close games throughout the year, and I thought we showed good poise, for the most part. We tipped our hat on the defensive end, and got stops down the stretch.

Kadin Shedrick (3 blocks) passed Mamadi Diakite (63 blocks in 2018-19) for seventh on UVA’s single-season blocked shots list with 64.

Six-seed Virginia (19-12) and 3-seed North Carolina are scheduled to faceoff on Thursday at 9:30 PM in Brooklyn.

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