It took an impressive comeback from an 11-point second-half deficit for fifth-ranked Virginia to force overtime against California.
Somehow, someway, the Cavaliers topped that in the extra session.
Three-pointers by Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes in the final minute of overtime erased a five-point Bears lead on Tuesday night and propelled host Virginia to a 63-62 victory. The shots themselves were clutch, but it was the surgical precision with which they were set up that was most remarkable.
With his team down five and about a minute remaining, Virginia coach Tony Bennett called timeout and drew up a play to free Brogdon in the left corner via an elevator screen. Brogdon ran to the corner, the screeners picked off Cal guard Sam Singer and Virginia's All-American candidate gave his team new life by burying a catch-and-shoot corner three.
After Cal's next possession resulted in a off-target contested jumper from Tyrone Wallace, Virginia corralled the rebound and again called timeout with 22 seconds to go. This time the play Bennett drew up was even more simple. Forward Anthony Gill set a textbook top-of-the-key ball screen for London Perrantes, giving the point guard just enough space to sink the eventual game-winning 3-pointer over Wallace's outstretched hands.
The jubilant reaction from Perrantes and his teammates reflected the fact that Virginia knew it stole one. The Cavaliers (10-1) have been winning more with efficient offense than smothering defense so far this season, but they shot just 38.9 percent from the field on Tuesday against the long, athletic Bears.
Gill led Virginia with 17 points, but he required 14 shots to get that. Brogdon had missed 9 of 11 shots before his huge 3-pointer. Perrantes had missed 5 of 8 prior to his.
If Tuesday's outcome inspired elation for Virginia, it inspired heartache for Cal. The Bears (9-3) saw this game as a chance to validate their preseason top 15 ranking, but they instead left Charlottesville still in search of their first marquee win.
Improved defense and impressive poise on the road are silver linings for Cal, but the Bears' execution on offense when the game was on the line was nowhere near as precise as Virginia's was.
Cal wasted its first chance to win the game on its final possession of regulation by isolating Jaylen Brown on Brogdon, a decision that resulted in the standout defender stripping the highly touted freshman of the ball as he went up for a difficult shot at the top of the key. It was Wallace who had the ball in his hands on Cal's final possession of overtime, but he too managed only a contested jump shot.
Those are lessons that Cal can learn from later this season when it's in a tight game in Pac-12 play. Virginia already knows how to execute down the stretch in tight games, and the Cavaliers proved it once again Tuesday night.
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