CHARLOTTESVILLE — Former Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon, in town to have his No. 15 jersey retired in the rafters at John Paul Jones Arena, packed the stands and delighted fans with memories of the Cavaliers’ halcyon days — his five years in Charlottesville — before Monday night’s game against Miami.
Virginia’s current squad, on the other hand, couldn’t keep the crowd in its seats. The once-giddy arena had emptied by the time the Cavaliers finally succumbed to the Hurricanes, 54-48, in overtime. With the loss, Virginia now has its first four-game losing streak since 2009-10, Cavaliers Coach Tony Bennett’s first season in Charlottesville.
Virginia’s continued lack of offense rendered the No. 18 Cavaliers powerless on a night that was meant to celebrate the program’s best recent alumnus. Virginia (18-9, 8-7 ACC) made just 16 field goals, including just 2 of 9 in overtime, and shot 31.4 percent from the field. Senior point guard London Perrantes, the team’s best scorer and leader, had just four points on 2-for-15 shooting, missed on all five of his three-point attempts and whiffed on his single opportunity at the free throw line.
Junior guard Devon Hall led Virginia with 15 points, and junior forward Isaiah Wilkins chipped in 10.
“It was there for the taking, and we didn’t,” Bennett said. “They did. They made some tough plays. It’s too bad. It was a special night — it doesn’t take away from Malcolm’s night, that was awesome, and he’s one of the special ones — but it just would have been nice to have a good feeling and celebrate a wonderful career for him.”
Miami (19-8, 9-6) took control in overtime, needing just one three-pointer with 19 seconds left from Bruce Brown to pad 8-for-8 free throw shooting in the extra period and take the win.
Wilkins had forced overtime with two clutch free throws with four seconds left in regulation — he made the second one after Miami Coach Jim Larranaga took a 60-second timeout to try to ice him. Hurricanes guard Devon Reed tossed up and made what would have been the game-winning shot, but it left his fingers just after the second-half buzzer rang out and was waved off after an official review.
Miami celebrated at the end all the same, cheering its first win in Charlottesville in its past five tries. Brown led three Hurricanes in double figures with 14 points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field.
“We felt like this was going to be a low-scoring game,” Larranaga said matter of factly, having changed out of his dress clothes and sitting comfortably in a track suit, “and maybe the first team to 50 would win. . . . So as the game was going on, it was not a surprise to us at all, and our players were very comfortable.”
The crowd settled in, still buzzing and excited at halftime, even though all Virginia had given it to cheer was a forced shot-clock violation in the first half. Virginia trailed 20-19 at intermission, the Cavaliers’ lowest-scoring first half of the season (the previous low was 22, set in a loss at North Carolina on Saturday and at California in December).
The Cavaliers responded well with a rapid-fire sequence five minutes into the second half that featured a three-pointer from Hall, a three-point play from freshman forward Mamadi Diakite and an alley-oop from Perrantes to Darius Thompson that set the Cavaliers off on a 12-0 run that had them up by nine with 12 minutes left. But the Hurricanes chipped away and hit almost all of their free throws to erode Virginia’s lead.
A three-pointer from D.J. Vasiljevic tied the agonizingly slow game at 41 with 1:04 left in regulation.
Bennett was resigned after the fact, again pointing out the Cavaliers’ youth and limited scoring prowess.
“It’s where we’re at. Our inexperience is showing,” Bennett said. “And we just, we’re obviously sliding right now. We’ve got to fight like crazy to just play as well as we can and see if we can get one. . . . We got off to such a good start [to the season], we were clicking, and then all of a sudden we’re not playing particularly well, we’re struggling to score. We’re still working hard defensively . . . but we’ll just find out what we’re made of inside. That’s all I want these guys to do, pursue quality. That’s all we can do at this point.”
Perrantes was equally withdrawn when discussing his inexplicable shooting slump. The senior has shot 25 percent (9 for 36) from the field in the past three games.
“Coach Bennett always says the sun’s going to come up in the morning,” Perrantes said. “Hopefully my shot comes up in the morning, too.”
At the end of the night, Brogdon stuck around to glad-hand the smattering of people still left after the final buzzer and sign autographs for a few youngsters, still doing his part to remind fans of better days.