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Tony Bennett on Virginia OT win at Wake Forest

uva basketballVirginia was supposed to foul somebody from Wake Forest on that last possession at the end of regulation.

Just not a jump shooter.

Particularly a three-point jump shooter.

“We were going to switch some ball screens, and we wanted to foul on them on the floor,” UVA coach Tony Bennett said after the game, a 65-63 overtime win.

The game got to the OT because Casey Morsell fouled Andrien White as White was awkwardly putting up a three with 1.7 seconds left.

“I told the official, ‘Let’s put them on the line. We’re not going to foul unless it’s on the floor.’ That was the plan, and sometimes the best-laid plans …”

Don’t work, if you don’t execute them properly.

It was questionable whether the whistle had to blow, given the contact, the situation.

But, fair is fair, Morsell didn’t keep his arms straight up, leaning in slightly as he and White made contact.

“We did a good job actually guarding and I think in that situation, Casey thought, ‘Well, there’s only three or four seconds left, he’s in a tough spot.’ We tried to foul, and we didn’t do it very well, so that was tough,” Bennett said.

What was particularly tough was that it felt like another episode in a sitcom with a similar script as Virginia’s four losses in the ACC.

The Cavaliers had leads in the final three minutes in all four.

“I thought we showed some great grit and resolve in overtime,” Bennett said.

Virginia took the lead for good on a Tomas Woldetensae three with 3:55 go to in the extra period.

That one was Woldetensae’s seventh three on the afternoon, obviously a season-high, as the JUCO transfer capped a 21-point effort.

“It was huge,” Bennett said of Woldetensae’s performance. “They played zone every possession, and with our shooting percentages people are either going to—some people, not all—are really going to back off.

“You need that,” Bennett said. “He stretched the defense, and he can shoot it, so that was really good to see even though. I don’t know what our overall percentage was for the game, but we’ll take anybody making them. So, a good game for Tomas.”

The game closed out with Virginia getting one last stop on the defensive end. Wake Forest coach Danny Manning called a timeout with 8.2 seconds left to set up a final play, which he seemed to want to go to point guard Torry Johnson, who got dribble penetration past UVA guard Kihei Clark into the lane, but was cut off at the rim by a sliding Braxton Key.

The second option on the play was 7-foot center Olivier Sarr, who had 11 points on the afternoon, but was just 2-for-9 from the floor.

Johnson, doubled by Clark and Key, dropped a pass back to Sarr, with Mamadi Diakite on his hip, and Key still at the rim.

Sarr didn’t get a shot off as time expired.

“Every game we’ve lost, we’ve either been ahead or tied under four or five minutes,” Bennett said. “For this team, how do you figure out how to win? And that was deflating how it ended in regulation, but the ability to either come up with a stop, get an offensive rebound—again, we had moments where we missed free throws, missed breakaways, missed dunks—all those things happen. But to come away with one was important because in this league, as you’re seeing, whoever is ready and whoever is playing the best has a chance. There are some excellent teams, but everybody is in play.”

Story by Chris Graham


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