Home Madness: Late Furman steal, three stuns fourth-seeded Virginia

Madness: Late Furman steal, three stuns fourth-seeded Virginia

Chris Graham
kadin shedrick
Photo: UVA Athletics

Kihei Clark was the author of most important pass in Virginia basketball history, without which there would be no 2019 national championship banner.

It’s awful to see Clark’s career end with maybe the dumbest pass in NCAA Tournament history.

Clark, trapped in the backcourt, with a timeout in his pocket, and, worst case, he gets fouled and goes to the free-throw line, for some reason decided to heave a pass, with all his might, from the baseline, in the direction of Kadin Shedrick, who was in the UVA frontcourt.

Furman center Garrett Hien, playing centerfield, made the steal, got the ball to guard JP Pegues, who had been struggling all day with his shooting – 2-of-8 from the floor, 0-of-3 from three, 4-of-7 at the line.

Pegues caught the pass from Hien and in one motion lifted up from 27 feet, over Clark.

As you are well aware, he drained the three with 2.2 seconds left.

The shot put the Paladins up for the final time.

Reece Beekman rimmed out a 40-footer after Virginia finally used that final timeout.

That one was actually closer than I expected it to be.

But the way things turned out, Virginia didn’t deserve this one, Furman did.

Final: Furman 68, Virginia 67.

The roar of the crowd at the Amway Center after the Pegues’ three dropped through the net is still here with me.

It feels as if my soul left my body when that shot went through the net.

I hope it finds its way back before I head back home.

Virginia (25-8) led by as many as 12, twice, in the second half, the second time after back-to-back threes by Isaac McKneely put the Cavaliers up 50-38 with 11:54 to go.

Furman coach Bob Richey went to a 1-3-1 zone a minute later after reinserting his leading scorer, Mike Bothwell, who had picked up his fourth foul earlier in the half.

To that point, Virginia was shooting just under 50 percent – 20-of-41 – from the floor.

The Cavaliers would shoot 4-of-13 from the floor the rest of the way.

Furman (28-7) stormed back to take the lead with a 19-4 run, capped by an and-one by SoCon player of the year Jalen Slawson, who was as good as advertised, with 19 points and 10 rebounds on the day, at the 5:02 mark that put the Paladins ahead, 57-54.

Virginia seemed to take control with a late 7-0 run that had the ‘Hoos up 67-63 with 19 seconds left, but they left two chances to put the game away on the table – McKneely missed the front end of a one-and-one with 35 seconds left that could have put Virginia up five, and Clark missed the front end of the two-shot foul with 19 seconds left.

Hien got free in the lane and drew a foul on Kadin Shedrick, who played his ass off – 15 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks, and honestly, I thought he got the Hien layup clean on this one – and converted both free throws with 12 seconds left to get the margin to two.

All Virginia had to do was get the ball inbounds and let Furman foul, but inexplicably, Clark tried to avoid the contact, perhaps thinking a long pass could run the clock out.

It was an unconscionable miscalculation from a guy who is otherwise the smartest basketball player I’ve ever seen play.

It’s simply awful that this is the way his career ends.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].