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Last-second Gardner jumper allows Virginia to escape Pitt: ‘Hoos win, 57-56

uva gardner celebrate
UVA forward Jayden Gardner celebrates after his jumper gave Virginia the lead with less than a second to go. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Jayden Gardner scored five points in the final 11 seconds, including a stickback 12-footer that bounded off every part of the rim and even kissed the backboard before falling with nine-tenths of a second left, to lift Virginia to a 57-56 win over Pitt Friday night in JPJ.

The ‘Hoos had gone without a basket for more than seven minutes, reminiscent of the opener, a loss to Navy.

Pitt coach Jeff Capel had his team go zone down the stretch, and it worked. After a Kadin Shedrick dunk gave the Cavaliers a 50-43 lead with 7:21 to go, Virginia missed seven straight shots from the floor.

The Panthers took advantage. After a pair of Kihei Clark free throws made it 52-45 with 5:50 to go, Pitt went on an 11-0 run.

After an Armaan Franklin miss from three with 28 seconds left – Franklin was 0-of-6 from the bonus-phere for the night – Jamarius Burton drained both ends of a one-and-one to put Pitt up 56-52 with 25 seconds left.

Franklin missed a layup, but Pitt couldn’t corral the rebound, giving Virginia possession for an inbounds under the basket.

Clark found Gardner on the inbounds for a layup and foul. The free throw made it a one-point game with 10 ticks left.

Virginia’s defense got the ball back, forcing a turnover on the inbounds – a five-second call.

Tony Bennett called timeout to set up a play, which resulted in a clean look from three for freshman Taine Murray.

The shot was long. Gardner tipped the rebound to himself, stepped back, and his shot hit every part of the iron it could, the glass, probably collected some magic dust as it hurtled through the air, before finally falling.

Pitt was not able to get a shot after a timeout.

That was ugly.

Virginia actually shot the ball reasonably well – 24-of-52, 46.2 percent, from the floor, but 4-of-21 from three ain’t going to cut it.

Gardner ended up leading all scorers with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 34 minutes.

Franklin had 10 points, shot 5-of-14 from the floor, the aforementioned 0-of-6 from three – he’s 11-of-48 (22.9 percent) from long-range on the season.

Last year at Indiana, Franklin shot 43.2 percent from three-point range.

Clark had nine points, six assists and five rebounds. Backcourt-mate Reece Beekman also had six assists, but was 0-of-5 from the floor, 0-of-4 from three, and continues to be a liability on the offensive end, with defenses sagging from him because of his inability to hit jumpers.

For the season, Beekman is shooting 33.3 percent from the floor, 11.8 percent from three, and he’s made a grand total of four jumpers (twos and threes, on 30 attempts) this season.

Kid should’ve worked on his shooting in the offseason. Shame that he didn’t.

The two seven-foot-ish centers, Shedrick and Francisco Caffaro, combined for 12 points, two rebounds and nine fouls in 38 minutes.

Two rebounds.

Off the bench, Murray had five points in 16 minutes, Kody Stattmann had three in seven minutes, and Igor Milicic Jr. had three in six minutes.

Inside the Numbers

The game was played at a glacial pace – 52 possessions. Virginia had come in averaging 59.8 possessions per game, ranking 358th – dead last – in D1, per

This game was 13 percent slower than that.

Pitt shot 39.1 percent from the floor for the night, but hit on 8-of-16 from three.

The Panthers had been a 26.7 percent team from three on the season coming in.

John Hugley led Pitt with 12 points. Burton contributed 11.

If you assumed that Pitt isn’t all that good, you’re right. The loss drops the Panthers to a 2-6 mark.

They’d played better this week, losing to an unbeaten Minnesota team by one at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Their previous four losses – to The Citadel, West Virginia, Vanderbilt and UMBC – had all been by double-digits.

This would have been an awful loss for Virginia. Thank god for the bounce(s).

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press