Defense wins championships: Virginia pulls one out of its backside with Pack-Line
When the going got tough Tuesday night against Cal, and it was tough all night, there was, as always, the Pack-Line.
The Bears led almost literally all the way, jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the first four minutes, going into the break up seven, building the margin to as much as 11 midway through the second half, and it was still seven with 7:33 to go after a jumper by Jabari Bird.
That would be Cal’s last field goal in regulation. The Bears would get two free throws in the final minute, and that was it for its last nine possessions.
The two threes in the final minute by Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes will be what you remember from this one, but they’re not possible if Virginia doesn’t also hold Cal to a pair of free throws in its last five possessions of the overtime period.
In 14 crunch-time possessions to end regulation and end the OT period, Cal got four free throws.
Not many teams can shoot 18.2 percent in the first half and 38.9 percent for the game and be anywhere near in the game at the end.
Virginia can win those type games.
The Cavs looked like a Final Four team in its big wins over West Virginia and Villanova. It looked like anything but at first glance Tuesday night, but don’t overlook what should be obvious.
There is going to be a game in March leading into April where the shots aren’t falling the way they normally do. Whether you survive and advance on those nights comes down to your ability to gut one out on the defensive end.
This game will pay dividends on that nervous night in March Madness.
– Story by Chris Graham