March 11, 2004
By AARON BEARDAssociated Press Writer
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Virginia snapped an eight-game tournament losing streak Thursday night, beating Clemson 83-79 in overtime in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Todd Billet scored 20 points, Elton Brown added 19, J.R. Reynolds and Devin Smith each hit key 3-pointers in the extra period for the eighth-seeded Cavaliers (17-11). Virginia hadn’t won a tournament game since beating Georgia Tech in the 1995 quarterfinals.
Virginia advanced to face top-seeded Duke in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Vernon Hamilton scored 19 points to lead the ninth-seeded Tigers (10-18).
Virginia swept the season series, but the Cavaliers couldn’t keep the Tigers from outrebounding them for the third straight meeting. The Tigers had a 42-32 edge, including 14-6 on the offensive boards, and scored 15 second-chance points.
Virginia rallied late in regulation, erasing an eight-point deficit in the final three minutes to force overtime. Once there, Reynolds and Smith came through.
With his team trailing 71-69, Smith grabbed an offensive rebound of a miss by Brown. He passed to Reynolds, who knocked down the straightaway 3 to put the Cavaliers ahead to stay with 1:42 left.
On the next possession, Smith took a pass from Billet and hit a 3 from the left wing for a 75-71 lead with 57 seconds left.
Virginia also turned up the defensive pressure late, forcing three straight turnovers to set up those 3s.
The Tigers had a chance to tie it. After Smith’s free throw pushed the lead to 81-78 with 6.8 seconds left, Hamilton was sent to the line with 2.9 seconds to play. He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, but Reynolds came down with the rebound.
Reynolds added two free throws to seal it with 2.4 seconds left. He finished with 18 points.
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