ASHWAUBENON, Wis. -- Tony Bennett's homecoming was bittersweet.
The Virginia Cavaliers' coach was born and raised in Green Bay and -- while playing for his father, Dick Bennett -- led the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix to lofty heights, including the program's first trip to the NCAA tournament.
Bennett, still the program's all-time leader with 601 assists and 2,225 points, brought his Cavaliers back Saturday for a nonconference meeting, which went down to the wire as Green Bay held on for a 75-72 victory at the Resch Center.
"I'm so thankful for my time here," Bennett said. "It meant so much to us. Green Bay basketball wasn't a household name, but to us it was everything."
After a brief stint in the NBA, Bennett joined Bo Ryan's staff at Wisconsin before following his father to Washington State, where he succeeded the elder Bennett as coach before moving to Virginia five seasons ago.
Returning to Bennett's hometown for the first time as a head coach, the Cavaliers dug their way out of a deep hole.
Trailing by as many as 13 early in the second half, Virginia closed to within nine points before two free throws by Green Bay point guard Keifer Sykes made it 60-49 with 8:56 to play.
The Cavaliers (7-3) answered with a 13-3 run that brought them within a point of the Phoenix after center Mike Tobey made one of two free throws with 4:01 to play.
Guard Malcolm Brogdon tied the game 69-69 on a 3-pointer with 1:53 left, but a quick four-point swing by the Phoenix (5-2), which was made possible by a clutch steal and bucket by Jordan Fouse, helped give Green Bay a 73-69 edge.
"We knew they were a good team and were going to make a run," Green Bay coach Brian Wardle said. "It's a good thing we had that big cushion because we knew it was coming, but we made the big plays in the last two minutes to win the game."
Virginia again got within one on Justin Anderson's 3-pointer from the corner and Sykes missed a layup. The Cavaliers could have gone ahead but Harris' 3-point attempt was short and Harris was called for the foul on Sykes, who hit two to make it a 3-point game with 8.7 seconds left.
Bennett called two more timeouts before getting his play set up, but the Phoenix held firm as Anderson missed on one last attempt to tie the game with a second remaining.
"We showed some composure and some fight to at least claw back into a one-possession game and have a chance," Bennett said. "I take my hat off to them. They took it to us early and they were the aggressor."
Forward Greg Mays established a career high with 24 points while reserve guard Carrington Love added 10 for Green Bay, which shot 51 percent from the field, was 7 of 14 from beyond the arc and scored 17 points off the Cavaliers' 14 turnovers.
"It means a lot for the team and the program," Sykes said. "To do it on this stage, with Tony Bennett coming back and what he's done for the university and playing a high-major, ACC team, it was good to see all the guys rise to the occasion.
"Coach said it was going to be a dog fight and that's what it was."
Virginia dropped its second in a row despite shooting an even 50 percent from the field and getting double-digit scoring efforts from five players. Brogdon paced the Cavaliers with 17 points while Harris and forward Anthony Gill each added 12. Anderson and forward Akil Mitchell finished with 10 points apiece.
The Cavaliers were looking to turn things around after a painful loss to Wisconsin earlier in the week in which Virginia shot an all-time low 28 percent. Saturday, the Cavaliers came out firing, hitting five of their first six shots and going 9-of-18 from the field in the first half.
The Phoenix were even hotter, going 12-of-23 from the field, including 3-of 4 from beyond the arc, to take a 37-31 lead into halftime.
NOTES: The Cavaliers beat Green Bay last season and are 3-1 all-time against current Horizon League teams. ... Green Bay F Jordan Fouse finished with a school-record eight steals while PG Keifer Sykes became the first Green Bay player since the school moved to Division I to score 20 or more points in six consecutive games. ... Virginia had beaten Green Bay in two previous meetings and is now 3-1 all-time against current Horizon League opponents.