ORLANDO, Fla. — JP Pegues made a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining, and No. 13 seed Furman completed a rally from a 12-point second-half deficit to hand fourth-seeded Virginia another first-round NCAA tournament loss, 68-67 on Thursday.
Making their first trip to the NCAA tournament in 43 years, the Paladins (28-7) advanced to the second round in the South Region, where they will play either fifth-seeded San Diego State or 12th-seeded Charleston on Saturday.
Furman earned its first tournament berth since 1980 by beating Chattanooga for the Southern Conference title, capping a season-long quest to redeem itself after losing the league’s automatic berth to the Mocs on a 35-foot buzzer-beater in last year’s Southern final.
In the aftermath of that loss, Jalen Slawson and his best friend, Mike Bothwell, both decided to return for their fifth seasons with the Paladins. Slawson took over the game when Bothwell fouled out, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
Kihei Clark, who starred as a freshman on Virginia’s 2019 national title-winning team, threw a bad pass that Garrett Hien intercepted at midcourt with 7 seconds to go, setting up Pegues’ go-ahead basket, his only 3 of the game.
Reece Beekman’s deep 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim and Virginia (25-8) was eliminated in the first round as the higher-seeded team for the third time in its past four NCAA tournaments — most notably its loss as a No. 1 seed to 16th-seeded UMBC in 2018. Virginia hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since its 2019 triumph over Texas Tech for the title.
Kadin Shedrick led the Cavaliers with 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Beekman scored 14 and Isaac McKneely added 12.
Hien made two free throws with 12.3 seconds left and the Paladins trapped Clark in the backcourt. The fifth-year senior guard threw the ball deep and into the hands of Hien, who fed the ball to a wide-open Pegues.
Marcus Foster scored 14 points, and Pegues and Bothwell both finished with 11 for Furman.
Virginia matched its biggest lead when McKneely’s 3-pointer made it 50-38 with 11:54 remaining. But the Paladins slowed down the Cavaliers’ offense and Slawson made a 3 and converted a three-point play on consecutive possessions to give Furman its first lead, 57-54 with 5:02 left.