Virginia continued to struggle on the road on Tuesday night but the No. 11 Cavaliers found magic late in a 72-71 ACC road win over Wake Forest. After going scoreless for the entire game, Darius Thompson banked in a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers the unlikely comeback victory.
The Cavaliers started the game 1-for-13 from 3-point range and made a furious rally late by finally finding their perimeter stroke. Wake Forest led 70-63 with 24 seconds left and had possession but Bryant Crawford turned the ball over and the Demon Deacons went 3-for-8 from the free-throw line in the game’s final 38 seconds. Virginia took advantage by hitting three 3-pointers in the game’s final 17 seconds.
Shooting 29 percent (5-for-17) from 3-point range for the game, Virginia’s offense couldn’t get going until it was nearly too late. The Cavaliers (16-4, 5-3) were essentially buried once the Demon Deacons had a second-half stretch of five minutes where they made five 3-pointers and pulled ahead by double-digits. But, once again, Virginia had enough big shots late to pull out an unlikely win.
Malcolm Brogdon led Virginia with 28 points and the senior was one of the few perimeter options that could create anything. Anthony Gill also chipped in 15 points for Virginia.
Bryant Crawford led Wake Forest by finishing with 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting while Devin Thomas (19 points) and Dinos Mitoglou (11 points) also finished in double-figures.
This comeback win is important for Virginia because another road loss to a mediocre opponent would have been a back-breaker. Virginia would have been 0-4 in the ACC with losses to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Wake Forest — not exactly the conference’s elite. While the road struggles for Virginia are still concerning — they’re 2-3 on the road this season against mediocre competition — you have to give them credit for being resilient enough to shake off the poor early shooting to hit shots late.
If Virginia wants to remain in the ACC title hunt they’re going to need to step things up on the road because it isn’t going to get any easier. The Cavaliers travel to Louisville next and they still have road games at Pitt, Duke, Miami and Clemson. The road won’t get any easier for Virginia away from Charlottesville from here and they need to fix these slow road starts immediately.