Virginia trailed Virginia Commonwealth by nine points four times in the second half today before guard Tom Calloway took charge and enabled the Cavaliers to slip past the Rams, 79-75, in overtime at University Hall. Virginia remains unbeaten in the nine-year history of the United Virginia Bank Invitational Tournament.
VCU (1-1) seemed ready to end Virginia's reign when tournament MVP Nicky Jones made four straight foul shots in 37 seconds to give the Rams a 65-60 lead with 1:25 left in regulation.
But Calloway, who scored 17 of his team- and career-high 22 points after halftime, took charge.
With 51 seconds left, he made a 15-foot jumper to pull Virginia (3-0) within three. Moments later, he scooped up a ball knocked loose from Jones by Virginia's Mel Kennedy and drove for a layup. Calloway was fouled on the play by Don Franco and made the free throw to make it 65-all with 19 seconds to go.
"We were standing around being passive," said Calloway, "By penetrating, I felt I could create some opportunities."
VCU's Bruce Allen missed from 20 feet as the buzzer sounded, forcing overtime.
"During the stretch when we were really in trouble and needed someone to shoulder the load, Calloway did that," said Virginia Coach Terry Holland. "He hit the crease in their zone and made some things happen. Fortunately for us, they were good things, and he put the ball in the basket."
Calloway hit from 18 feet to give Virginia a 67-65 lead, the Cavaliers' first since early in the second half. After Tom Sheehey's 10-footer with 3:13 to go in overtime, VCU never caught up.
Calloway's heroics spoiled a strong performance by Jones who came close to engineering the upset for first-year Coach Mike Pollio and a team that is missing four starters from last year's 26-6 NCAA tournament squad.
Jones scored 24 points before fouling out with 1:12 to go in overtime. With Jones in control, the Rams beat the Cavaliers down the floor often enough to lead by nine as late as the 8:12 mark in the second half, 57-48.
"I have to give credit to Nicky Jones," said Holland, "He's one of the finest guards I've seen."
In the consolation game, UNC-Wilmington defeated Towson State, 82-60.