Furman pulled off what promises to be a signature moment of the NCAA tournament on Thursday with a stunning upset of No. 4 seed Virginia.
After the game, even Furman star Jalen Slawson couldn't believe what just transpired. The Southern Conference Player of the Year was astonished as he walked through the tunnel to the victorious Furman locker room after the 68-67 Paladins win.
Jalen Slawson: “He just freaking threw it!” pic.twitter.com/xMLCWtPMjD
— Brendan Marks (@BrendanRMarks) March 16, 2023
"He just freaking threw it," Slawson said with his arms in the air and a look of befuddlement on his face.
In case you missed it, "it" was Kihei Clark's fateful pass that allowed Furman to steal the ball and take the lead for good via a JP Pegues 3-pointer. With the clock winding under 10 seconds and Virginia holding a 67-65 lead after a made Furman free throw, Clark found himself trapped with the ball at the Virginia baseline.
Instead of calling Virginia's last remaining timeout, the senior Cavaliers guard blindly heaved the ball down court in an apparent effort to eat clock. But Furman's Garrett Hien corralled the loose ball near midcourt then found Pegues beyond the 3-point line on the right wing. Pegues then launched a go-ahead shot that fell through the net with 2.2 seconds remaining.
JP PEGUES FOR THE WIN!
FURMAN UPSETS VIRGINIA!pic.twitter.com/Wi93mvUOJy
— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) March 16, 2023
Reece Beekman's desperation 3-point shot on the other end missed the mark, and the 13th-seeded Paladins walked off the court with their first NCAA tournament win since 1974. Virginia, meanwhile, fell victim to its third first-round upset as a No. 4 seed or higher since 2018, including that year's loss to No. 16 UMBC as a No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers also lost to No. 13 Ohio in 2021 as a No. 4 seed.
It's been a rocky NCAA tournament road in Charlottesville under Tony Bennett with the one glaring exception of the 2019 NCAA championship. This year, Furman's the beneficiary and will look to keep up its Cinderella status in a second-round matchup against San Diego State.