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Reece Beekman comes up big for Virginia in ACC road win

uva gardner beekman
Photo by Dan Grogan.

Reece Beekman had a big night, and it was enough to overcome Virginia’s two bigs fouling out trying to check Pitt’s John Hugley, with UVA getting the 66-61 win in front of perhaps five people at the Petersen Events Center Wednesday night.

There were more than five people there, but an ungodly number of empty seats were obvious on the ACC Network broadcast, a shame, because after a rough start for both teams, this one turned out to be worth watching.

Hugley had 23 points and seven rebounds for Pitt (7-11, 2-5 ACC) on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor and 8-of-9 at the line in 35 minutes, and he was the reason that both Francisco Caffaro and Kadin Shedrick fouled out.

But Hugley also had seven turnovers, and his defense wasn’t all-league – Shedrick finished with 12 points, on 6-of-6 shooting, and Caffaro had a modest four, but was 2-of-3 from the floor.

You’ll take, if you’re Tony Bennett, 8-of-9 for 16 points and a combined eight rebounds from your bigs.

Beekman has been playing well of late, and he stepped things up Wednesday night, with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor, 3-of-5 from three, and eight assists in 38 minutes.

Beekman, over his last seven games, is averaging 13.2 points and 5.0 assists per game, shooting 55.7 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from three.

And he came up big down the stretch. A 9-0 Virginia run, punctuated by a Kihei Clark three, off a Beekman assist, gave the Cavaliers (11-7, 5-3 ACC) a 54-44 lead with 7:29 left.

Pitt would twice cut the lead to six, but Beekman answered both times with driving layups, the first with 3:03 to go, the second with 2:21 on the clock, to give the ‘Hoos some breathing room.

The Panthers then got the margin down to three, at 62-59, on a pair of free throws from Femi Odukale with 1:38 to go.

Armaan Franklin missed a three, and Pitt’s Mouhamadou Gueye missed a contested layup, giving Virginia the ball back inside of a minute to go, looking for some space.

Beekman would create it, literally, with a dribble drive, then dish, to a cutting Franklin for a layup with 26 seconds left that pushed the margin back to five.

Good defense from Jayden Gardner forced an Odukale miss with 11 seconds left, and a pair of Clark free throws with 8.6 seconds on the clock sealed it.

Virginia shot 50 percent from the floor (27-of-54) despite going just 4-of-17 from three.

Key was what the Cavaliers were able to do in the paint. Despite the big night from Hugley, Virginia would end the night with a 36-30 edge in points in the paint.

After a miserable 8-of-26 night on shots at the rim in the loss to Wake Forest this past weekend, UVA was a tidy 12-of-15 at the rim Wednesday night.

Gardner had 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, a nice bounceback effort, after scoring four, on 2-of-10 shooting, in the win over Virginia Tech midweek last week, then putting in nine, on 3-of-14 shooting, in the loss to Wake.

Shedrick had the aforementioned 12 points, and he had three rebounds and also blocked two shots.

Clark had seven points on 2-of-8 shooting, 1-of-6 from three, but had six assists in 34 minutes.

Franklin had a rare, of late, off-night, scoring six on 3-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes.

Kody Stattmann, coming off his career-high 11 points in the Wake loss, was 1-of-8 from the floor, and finished with four points, in 27 minutes off the bench.

Pitt also shot 50 percent (21-of-42) from the floor and was 1-of-6 from three.

The Panthers had 15 turnovers to Virginia’s nine, and Virginia had a 21-11 edge in points off turnovers.

Pitt, buoyed by the frequent trips from Hugley to the line, was 18-of-22 at the stripe; Virginia was 8-of-12.

The ‘Hoos return to Charlottesville tonight, then head back out on the road on Saturday with a game in Raleigh at NC State at 4 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

Here’s to ACCN being able to find a person for play-by-play who realizes the backup center’s last name isn’t Cedric.

Story by Chris Graham

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