Sun, 23 Jan 2022

Jayden Gardner's last-minute explosion leads Virginia over Pitt

Field Level Media
04 Dec 2021, 13:40 GMT+10

Jayden Gardner hit a baseline jumper with 0.9 seconds left, capping a stunning rally that gave Virginia a 57-56 victory over visiting Pitt in both teams' Atlantic Coast Conference opener Friday night in Charlottesville, Va.

With 25 seconds to play, Virginia (6-3, 1-0 ACC) trailed by four points. However, with 9.7 seconds left, Gardner took an inbounds pass, scored a basket, was fouled and completed a three-point play to cut the deficit to 56-55.

The Cavaliers then got the ball back as they forced the Panthers to commit a five-second violation.

Taine Murray missed a 3-point try with six seconds left, but Gardner came down the rebound and fired a 12-foot shot that bounced on the rim three times before falling through.

It was a tough way for Pittsburgh (2-6, 0-1) to lose after making a stirring 11-0 run over the final seven minutes to grab the lead. Walk-on Onyebuchi Ezeakudo hit the key shot of the rally, a 3-pointer with 52 seconds left that gave the Panthers a two-point lead.

Jamarkus Burton, who finished with 11 points, followed with a pair of free throws to give Pitt a 56-52 edge before Gardner's heroics. Gardner, a transfer from East Carolina, finished with 15 points and five rebounds.

John Hugley had 12 points to lead Pitt. Mouhamadou Gueye scored six of his eight points during the Panthers' second-half rally.

Over the first 13 minutes, neither team led by more than three points before Virginia went on a 14-2 run. Kihei Clark triggered it with a 3-pointer and followed with a slick drive and dish to Gardner.

When Armaan Franklin (10 points) completed the run with a baseline bucket with 4:26 left in the half, the Cavaliers held a 30-20 lead. But those would be the final points for Virginia before the break. Daniel Oladapo finished the half with a reverse layup and a dunk as Pittsburgh cut the deficit to 30-26.

The Cavaliers remained cold early in the second half. At the other end of the floor, Hugley and Ezeakudo hit 3-pointers as Pitt took a 38-34 lead.

Virginia answered with a seven-point run. Murray ignited the surge with a corner 3-pointer, and Kaden Shedrick finished it with a slam dunk.

--Field Level Media

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