Furman tips off madness by forced TO, go-ahead 3 to beat Virginia

Mar 16, 2023, 1:20 PM
Furman forward Tyrese Hughey (15) and forward Alex Williams, right, celebrate their win against Vir...
Furman forward Tyrese Hughey (15) and forward Alex Williams, right, celebrate their win against Virginia during a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

It only took until the second game of the NCAA Tournament’s first round to give us a wild March moment in 2023.

The No. 13 seed Furman Paladins trailed the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers for the first 34 minutes of the game on Thursday. The purple-clad Furman squad edged back into it in clutch time, but the Paladins still trailed by two points after hitting free throws with 12 seconds left.

Pressing the Cavaliers on the inbound pass, Furman trapped point guard Kihei Clark.

He must’ve panicked because Clark flung a sideways, crosscourt pass right into the hands of Furman’s Garrett Hien. Then Hien hit J.P. Pegues on the wing for a go-ahead three with seconds left.

Virginia got one more look, but it wasn’t a good one. Furman advanced via a 68-67 final score and will face the winner of San Diego State and Charleston.

Perhaps the most vexing thing about the near-buzzer-beater was that Clark was the one to make the errant pass. He has 160 games of college experience over five seasons and more wins than anyone else in ACC history.

Virginia led by as many as 12 points with just fewer than 12 minutes to play and at that point had a win probability of 96%, according to ESPN’s metrics.

It took fighting against the odds and then forcing one of the most experienced players in college hoops making a mistake to swing the game the Paladins’ way.

Madness, indeed.

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