Joe Harris led Virginia with 17 points on Friday.
March 29, 2014
Their careers ended Friday with a 61-59 loss to fourth-seeded Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen.
"This is how we wanted to leave the program: We wanted to leave it in a better spot than when we came in," Harris said, eyes red.
He and Malcolm Brogdon both scored 17 points, but they shot a combined 10 of 28. The Cavaliers were 20 of 57 overall (35.1 percent).
Few top-seeded teams have encountered an opponent this formidable in the Sweet Sixteen. The Spartans (29-8) struggled with a spate of mid-season injuries, but now that they're healthy, they're a favorite to win it all.
Branden Dawson missed nine games with a broken right hand, and he proved again Friday the difference he makes on the court. The junior had 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Adreian Payne added 16 points for Michigan State, and his 3-pointer with 1:29 left gave the Spartans the lead for good at 54-51. After a miss by Brogdon, the 6-foot-10 Payne turned point guard, finding Dawson with a line drive lob pass for a dunk with 52 seconds to go.
Virginia (30-7) trailed 51-44 with just over 4 minutes left but scored seven straight points to tie the game.
It was the kind of run the Cavaliers have made all season.
"We beat a hell of a team," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
But Virginia met its match in a program making its eighth regional final appearance since 1999 under Izzo. That's the kind of tradition Tony Bennett is trying to build with the Cavaliers.
"Big shoes to fill," he said of his seniors, "but I think they have established this program, and I think it's going in the right way."
Forward Anthony Gill rolled his ankle, and that slowed him on offense, where the Cavaliers struggled to get easy points inside, and on defense, where they needed all the help they could get against Dawson.
Harris hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left to pull Virginia within 56-54, but Payne made both free throws on the other end to make it a two-possession game.
The Cavaliers were left to look back on this season's accomplishments and look ahead to what they hope is more seasons like this.
"I'm thankful that for four years I got to be a part of watching them grow from boys to men and turn our program around," Bennett said. "And I always tell them: `A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.' They left a legacy that they won't forget.
"It stings now and it feels empty, and it's a team you don't want the season to end because you don't want to stop coaching them."
'Hoos Happy to Have Comforts of HomeBaseball5/31/16For the ninth time in its 13 seasons under head coach Brian O'Connor, Virginia is hosting an NCAA baseball regional.Lynch Makes Timely Return to MoundBaseball5/28/16In his first appearance since April 13, freshman Daniel Lynch retired all four batters he faced Friday in Virginia's ACC tournament loss to Wake Forest.Transfers Eager to Help Lift ProgramFootball5/26/16UVA's football team added three transfers this spring: quarterback Kurt Benkert, offensive guard Jared Cohen and defensive end Jack Powers.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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