Men’s Basketball Wins Continental Tire Main Event, Defeats No. 19 Illinois 70-61 – The Cavalier Daily < Illinois

After both beating the top 10 teams on Friday night, No. 16 Virginia and No. 19 Illinois faced off with the Cavaliers (4-0, 0-0) in Sunday afternoon’s Continental Tire Main Event championship game in Las Vegas, Nevada. 0). ACC) emerged victorious 70-61 thanks to a late-game surge. Virginia’s win caps an emotional week for the team and varsity after three football players – junior wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr., junior linebacker D’Sean Perry and junior wide receiver Devin Chandler deadly shot the night of November 13th.

“If you have a temporary celebration like this, you can enjoy it,” said coach Tony Bennett. “It seems to matter, but by and large it doesn’t. What matters are the things that have been brought into focus.”

Both teams came into play thanks to their explosive shooting performances in their wins on Friday night. The Cavaliers were led past No. 5 Baylor by senior guard Armaan Franklin’s 26-point performance on 7-12 shooting, while the Fighting Illini (4-1, 0-0 Big 10) had senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr. with 8-9 shooting saw three-point range en route to a 29-point performance.

The game started quickly, both teams found each other’s style of play. Graduate guard Kihei Clark scored the first seven points for Virginia by hitting three and two athletic layups.

Five minutes into the first half, the Cavaliers were leading 10-7 against the Fighting Illini. The height of the Illinois players, four of whom were 6ft 6 or taller in the starting lineup, didn’t seem too much of an issue for Virginia early on.

The Cavalier defense held Illinois 4-14 shooting 11-37 in the first half. However, a three-point shot by sophomore guard RJ Melendez gave Illinois a 12-11 lead. The shot ignited crowds in Illinois, who turned up despite the game being played at a neutral Las Vegas venue.

It seemed like every time one of the two teams gained momentum, the other team would turn around and hit back. After Clark hit a three to make it 16:14, Virginia, Illinois freshman guard Jayden Epps drove to the basket to level the game.

Both offenses increased towards the end of the first half. Illinois made a few key passes and cuts that got their fans excited, but the Cavaliers responded well. Postgraduate forwards Jayden Gardner and Clark both drew and drove layups to keep the game extremely tight.

Shannon Jr. came out of his shell late in the half, hitting an arcing three-pointer on offense for Illinois and taking a tackle from junior guard Reece Beekman right after.

At halftime, Illinois had a two-point lead over Virginia at 31:29. Both Epps and Melendez led the Fighting Illini with eight points while Clark had 10 for Virginia and Gardner added seven. Both defenses were crucial in the first half as Illinois held Virginia 37 percent on shooting but shot only 40 percent from the field itself. The deciding factor in the second half looked like whoever could make clutch shots and control the pace of the game.

Virginia started the second half with a fast 6-0 run. It was capped by a steal from Beekman that eventually resulted in a junior forward, Kadin Shedrick, dipping in transition to level the score at 35-31 in favor of the Cavaliers. Shedrick scored seven of Virginia’s first nine points to start the second half.

Ball action on the Illinois offense began to confuse Virginia as players stayed wide open for the Fighting Illini on back-to-back possessions. Just as Illinois leveled the game, Beekman nailed a three-pointer to reclaim the lead for the Cavaliers and take it to 41-38, but offenses remained slow.

However, both teams picked up offense with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Franklin responded to a Fighting Illini layup with a hard layup and a sweeping two-pointer, but Epps fired back to keep Illinois within three points.

With six minutes left, every possession felt crucial for both Illinois and Virginia, and the two teams looked like they were playing in late March, not late November. Illinois’ sophomore Dain Dainja after a media break, three behind, struggled for two key offensive rebounds to keep possession alive, ultimately causing Epps to lose a three to level the game at 53.

With Illinois leading 58-56 with 3:42 left, the Fighting Illini would only score with 11 seconds left.

Virginia’s defense finished off Illinois’ offense while going on a 13-0 run of their own. The key for the Cavaliers was forcing difficult shots for the Fighting Illini down the stretch while taking multiple free throws. For the game, Illinois shot 4-9 from the free throw line while Virginia shot a whopping 25-32 and attempted 23 more free throws than the Fighting Illini.

Highlights of the 13-0 run included a drive from Beekman to the basket after a missed Illinois three-pointer when he scored through a touch from Shannon Jr. to make it 62-58. Additionally, Franklin took a charge with less than a minute left to essentially seal the game.

It felt like a classic, defensively controlled Bennett win and showed the duality of this Virginia team. While they’d only shot 5-17 from three in previous games after the lights went out in previous games, Sunday’s defense flexed its muscles and showed just how many different ways this Virginia team can win.

Clark and Gardner both scored 12 points while Franklin led the Cavaliers with 17 points. Vander Plas was also key for the Cavaliers on the boards as he notched 10 rebounds.

For Illinois, Epps scored 14 points while junior forward Coleman Hawkins added 10. While the box score doesn’t suggest a huge shooting difference between the two teams, Virginia was able to block defensively when it mattered most a few minutes from the end of the game when the Cavaliers smashed four misses and three turnovers from Illinois forced.

Beekman was named tournament MVP after his 10 points, 10 assist double-doubles against Baylor and a 17 point, 4 rebound game against Illinois.

The Cavaliers return home and face Maryland Eastern Shore Friday at 6:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on both the ACC Network and the Virginia Sports Radio Network.

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