CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—Thomas Jefferson designed the center of Virginia’s campus with one thing in mind: Classics. Inside John Paul Jones Arena Saturday evening, the game proved to be just that.
It was messy, it was sloppy, it was physical—just like these foes are accustomed to. Duke showed up to the Cavaliers’ stomping ground—an arena in which Virginia has only dropped one game all season—and put up a valiant fight before a tense 69-62 overtime defeat broke Blue Devil hearts. The biggest point of contention was an overturned foul call on Kyle Filipowski’s drive on the final play of regulation, which would have given the freshman two tries from the line to seal the game for Duke.
Duke graduate wing Jacob Grandison nailed a clutch three from the corner inside the final minute of regulation, tying the game at 58-58. Dariq Whitehead pulled down the rebound for one final possession and after a lengthy review, Filipowski was deemed to not be fouled as the buzzer sounded, sending this frantic frenzy into overtime.
“Well, [the officials] told me after the fact that the call was made after the buzzer,” Duke head coach Jon Scheyer said after the game. “You can see the ball left his hands before point-zero. So I don't know, I don't know exactly what the rule is. I would like to get some clarification, to understand. But the call is made.”
“I do wish that [Filipowski] got that opportunity,” Scheyer added. “I still would like an explanation of exactly what had happened. I don't have clarity on that.”
“We have the advantage of seeing the replay, and boy Reece (Beekman) got it, looked to me like a good block on it,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said of the no-call. “I would assume that the time ran out or the foul was after so I didn't see it.”
The Cavaliers got the extra period rolling with a couple of free throws by Ben Vander Plas and a layup from Kihei Clark, but it was ultimately a series of Duke errors that decided the game. Tyrese Proctor traveled, Ryan Young missed a wide-open layup and the Blue Devils (17-8, 8-6 in the ACC) ate up too much clock, sending them packing in heartbreaking fashion as Virginia guard Armaan Franklin hit the 3-point dagger with 40 seconds to play.
Bennett’s squad roared to life after a slog of a first half, grabbing four quick points and holding the Blue Devils scoreless until nearly three minutes into the second. Two opportunities from the stripe gave Vander Plas a chance to extend his team’s lead to two possessions, but one shot just short and another just long gave the Blue Devils a chance to reclaim their lead.
Such was the entire game. No team ever had a lead bigger than seven points, largely because both teams had difficulty breaking down the other’s defense. Making the most of slim opportunities was everything and then some—foul shots, contested 3-pointers, difficult drives. Virginia (19-4, 11-3) did that marginally better, and for it, escaped one of the craziest games of either team’s season with a tick in the win column.
Clark pulled his team on his shoulders back from a 51-46 deficit with 7:49 to go, pushing the game down to the wire. Bass-boosted music shook the seats and chants of “U-V-A” reverberated throughout the crowd. Cavalier freshman Ryan Dunn hammered a dunk, sending the arena into rapture. Compared to the final spectacle, however, it felt insignificant.
A few shot-clock violations and some excellent Virginia defense down the stretch made the last few minutes a testy bunch for the Blue Devils. Ultimately, the Cavaliers’ astuteness and their vibrant home crowd kept it tight despite some clutch Blue Devil buckets.
“I think our defense did hold us in there while we were recovering and there were some big plays,” Bennett said. “I thought [Scheyer] did a good job having his team ready. He's a good young coach. You can see it and he got his team to respond and they ran tricky stuff. And it was hard for us … I thought our guys stepped up.”
Although the Blue Devils exited the first half with a slim 27-25 lead, it was not because they had played especially well. They shot well from the floor and from three while cuffing the Cavaliers’ reliable offensive options, but committed 11 turnovers as the team’s usual weapons struggled to make their mark. Neither Whitehead nor Filipowski logged a single point in the opening period.
That changed for Whitehead, who sparked a sluggish Duke early in the second half back to an advantage with 10-straight Blue Devil points, but it was a different story for Filipowski.
The seven-time ACC Rookie of the Week committed four turnovers in the first 20 minutes. He never really got rolling after, finishing with zero points and six rebounds.
Some first-half foul trouble forced Virginia forward Jayden Gardner—a consistent threat on the boards averaging 11.5 points per game—to the bench, slightly softening the Cavaliers’ presence in the post on both ends of the floor. Freshman center Dereck Lively II also exited with two quick fouls, depriving the Blue Devils of their most talented post defender.
Heading into the late afternoon tip, the Blue Devils and Cavaliers sat No. 2 and No. 1, respectively, in scoring defense in the ACC. Virginia’s guard combo of Reece Beekman, Clark and Franklin pestered the Blue Devil backcourt of Jeremy Roach and Proctor from the jump, forcing tough outside looks and shutting the channels into the paint up tight.
No matter which rotation Scheyer tried early on, the post would just not open up to the Blue Devil big men. Instead, Roach took matters into his own hands, accounting for 12 of Duke’s first 14 points, all from the field. Six of those came from two contested threes, and the rest from tough drives to the rim.
The junior captain logged his fourth foul early in the second half, however, forcing him to the bench as Duke fought for its life. In his stead and in his company, Proctor showed his stock. The freshman Aussie found a lane inside and launched himself upward for a thunderous one-handed slam, going along with 14 additional points across 41 minutes of play.
“We came here to win, and so you can't feel sorry for yourself,” Scheyer said. “You have to hate losing, I'll never change, you have to hate it, hate this feeling. And then if you do that, you'll figure out how to grow and where this doesn't happen again.”
The result condemns Scheyer's team to two successive away defeats to top-25 teams. Next, struggling Notre Dame comes to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a matchup Tuesday evening.
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Andrew Long is a Trinity sophomore and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.