JP Pegues’ 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining lifted 13th-seeded Furman to a 68-67 victory over fourth-seeded Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament’s South Region on Thursday in Orlando, Fla.
Pegues’ historic shot from the right wing gave the Paladins their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1974 after rallying from a four-point deficit in the final 19 seconds.
The Paladins (28-7), who are playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 1980, will face fifth-seeded San Diego State in the second round on Saturday.
“What an unbelievable college basketball game,” said Furman coach Bob Richey. “All year we’ve been saying that this team just knows how to win. What a day to be a Paladin.”
Jalen Slawson had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Marcus Foster added 14 points. Pegues and Mike Bothwell finished with 11 points apiece for Furman, which won for the 15th time in its past 16 games.
Trailing 67-63 with 19 seconds left, Furman’s Garrett Hein sank a pair of free throws to cut the margin to two with 12 seconds to go.
But Virginia’s Kihei Clark, trapped near the Cavaliers’ baseline, launched a deep pass that Hein intercepted. He found Pegues wide open on the right wing for what proved to be the game-winning shot.
“I was like, ‘I want the ball,'” Pegues said. “I feel like those are moments I’ve created my whole life, and I feel like I’m built for … all I could do at that point was just ride up and shoot it, and I had full belief that it was going in — and it did.”
For Virginia, Reece Beekman’s long 3-point attempt bounced off the backboard as time expired.
Kadin Shedrick had 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Beekman had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists for Virginia, which led by as many as 12 in the second half.
Isaac McKneely added 12 points for the Cavaliers (25-8), who have lost in the first round in three of their past four NCAA Tournaments. Virginia won the national title in 2019.
“You know, this game is — interesting might be the word I’d use,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “You feel like, ‘We got it, we got it,’ and then all of a sudden in a moment’s notice, it changes at the end. That’s tough.”
Virginia led 50-38 with 11:54 remaining, but the Paladins went on a 19-4 run, which featured 11 points by Slawson, to take its first lead of the game, 57-54, on Slawson’s three-point play with 5:02 to go.
After Pegues’ two free throws pushed Furman’s advantage to 63-60 with 2:33 left, Shedrick’s tip-in made it a one-point game before Beekman’s two free throws gave the Cavaliers a 64-63 lead with 1:37 to go.
Shedrick hit a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game with 1:21 left.
Virginia controlled the first half, leading by as many as 10 before taking a 32-27 halftime advantage against the Southern Conference regular-season and tournament champion Paladins.
–Field Level Media
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