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Virginia, again, snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, falls to Bonnies, 52-51, in NIT

armaan franklin
Armaan Franklin had a game-high 17 points for Virginia. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Virginia, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, had a late lead, and a chance to close it out at the line, but couldn’t, and St. Bonaventure rallied with a three from Dominick Welch and two free throws with 5.2 seconds left from Kyle Lofton to get the 52-51 win on Wednesday in the NIT quarterfinals.

The Cavaliers (21-14) led 51-47 with 30 seconds left, after Armaan Franklin, who had 17 points, connecting on 5-of-11 from three, made the front end of a one-and-one.

He missed the back end, though, leaving the door if not open, then ajar.

The Welch three – the senior had been 1-of-6 from long-range in the game to that point – was of the double-pump variety, so, basically slop, but it went through the net, which is what counts, making it 51-50 with 21 seconds on the clock.

Jayden Gardner was next up with a chance to not necessarily ice it, because of the Welch three, but at least pretty much guarantee that a bucket wouldn’t beat you.

Gardner, who had 14 points on the night, bonked the front end.

That set up St. Bonaventure (23-9) with possession. After almost losing the ball out of bounds, and a replay review to confirm, which effectively gave the Bonnies, out of timeouts at that point, a timeout with 10.9 seconds left.

The ball went to Lofton, who drove into the lane and was fouled by Franklin.

Lofton sank the first, then Tony Bennett called a timeout, to set up his final offensive play.

Lofton made the second, and Virginia inbounded to Kihei Clark, perhaps in his final game in a Virginia uniform.

Virginia had one timeout left, but Bennett likes to run his play without allowing the defense to get set, and no doubt the instructions out of the huddle were for Clark to create, either for a teammate or for himself.

No one was open on the wings or in the lane, so Clark took it to the basket.

His shot was blocked by Osun Osunniyi as the buzzer sounded.

Clark finished with two points, both at the line, shooting 0-of-7 from the field, with six assists and two turnovers in 40 minutes.

The game probably turned a little sooner than the closing sequence on a missed call – a charge assessed to Reece Beekman, his fifth, with Virginia up 50-47 and 1:38 to play, on what was an obvious flop by Jaren Holmes.

The TV folks have been saying all week that flops were a point of emphasis for game officials this March, but not there.

Beekman finished with six points and six assists.

Welch, Osunniyi and Jaren Holmes each had 10 to lead St. Bonaventure, which heads to the NIT Final Four next week in New York.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press
augusta free press

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