No. 13 Furman trades No. 4 Virginia another early exit from the NCAA Tournament

Michael DeRoccoESPN staff writer3 minutes to read

ORLANDO, FL – It took nearly 50 years, but Foreman pulled off another win in the NCAA Tournament.

Paladins did it in dramatic fashion, too.

Jarrett Henn intercepted a erratic pass and sent the ball to JP Pegges, who hit a long 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds to give the 13th-ranked Paladins a 68-67 win over fourth-ranked Virginia at the Amway Center on Thursday. It is the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1974.

“It’s an incredible moment. What a day it is to be a Paladin,” said Foreman’s trainer Bob Richie, who was not born until three years after the Paladins appeared in their last championship appearance in 1980.

It’s been pretty good for the Pegues, too. The sophomore guard missed his previous three 3-point attempts, but the Paladins’ team leader in 3-point field goals this season buried his last goal from several feet behind the three-point line. It would become one of the biggest picks in program history since the Paladins had just one more win in the NCAA Tournament.

“As soon as I saw it in the hands of Garrett Henn, I felt like I wanted the ball,” Biggies said. “I feel like these are the moments where my whole life was made and I feel like I was made for it. Once I got the ball [saw] My shooting attempt, I knew all I could do at that point was ride it and fire it, I had complete faith that it would go in and it did.”

Furman’s victory was the first upset of the tournament and they were a fashionable selection to pull off it. At Caesars Sportsbook, the betting was on Foreman’s side, with 61.6% of the tickets and 55.6% of the money on Paladins.

On the books of BetMGM, more bets have been placed and more money wagered by Foreman plus points (5.5) than any other team in Thursday matches by tip.

The Paladins (28-7), who have won 15 of their 16 games, play San Diego State on Saturday in a second-round game.

“This team has done a great job making history all year so Saturday will be another chance to make history and this team has done their best in the brightest lights all year,” said Foreman striker Jalen Slawson. “We played well [the Southern Conference] championship, but we played better today. Imagine if we play better on Saturday.”

For Virginia (25-8) it was a reminder of another heartbreaking first-round loss. Thursday’s game came on the fifth anniversary of their loss to UMBC, marking the first time the 16th seed had defeated the top seed. The Cavaliers rebounded to win the national title in 2019 but lost in the first round in their last two championship games.

It was also a heartbreaking moment for Virginia guard Kehey Clark, who got trapped on the baseline and threw an errant pass into the low zone that was intercepted by Henn. Virginia still had a timeout, but neither Clark nor coach Tony Bennett called one.

“You can’t see the way out of it,” Clark said. Reese saw [Beekman] I went back and saw Jayden [Gardner] There at the bottom. Just tried to throw it.

“…perhaps he could have thrown it at Isaac [McKneely] on the right wing. I just couldn’t see. It was a good trap.”

Virginia led by 12 points with 15:11 to play but Furman switched to zone defense and pulled away from the lead, eventually taking the lead on a Slawson layup with 5:02 to play. Clark put Virginia ahead by 4 with 19 seconds to play on a free throw, but two free throws by Henn with 12 seconds left set the stage for a Clark turnover.

“I thought we struggled to get that lead back,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. This is where I thought, ‘Okay, we got her back. “He played well, tough and I think we will play on Saturday. But we are not.”

This would be a foreman, instead.

“We just soak it all in,” said Biggies. “We’re enjoying the moment.”

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