On Thursday, the fourth-seeded Virginia Cavaliers face the 13th-seeded Furman Paladins — making their first March Madness appearance in 43 years — in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
Many expected a walkover for the Cavs and the Paladins trailed for most of the encounter — at one point Virginia stretched their lead to 12 points.
The Paladins clawed their way back into the contest thanks to a solid performance on the defensive end that made the clutch uncomfortable for Virginia.
With Virginia down two and under 10 seconds on the clock, the Paladins forced a steal at midcourt when Garrett Hien caught a lazy pass and drove ahead.
Heen found JP Pegues, who squared his shoulders and proceeded to bury the game-winning three to give the Paladins a one-point lead.
With 2.4 seconds on the clock, Virginia was forced to shoot, but missed a desperation layup at the buzzer.
Watch for some big celebrations as the Paladins storm the court before the team dances and sprinkles themselves with water in the locker room.
After the win, Pegues gave an insight into how he felt before his decisive clutch shot.
“When I saw it go into Garrett Hien’s hands, I was like, I want the ball. I feel like these are the moments that I’ve built my whole life on, and I feel like I’ve been built,” Pegues said.
“So as soon as I got the ball and saw the shot attempt I took, I knew at that point all I could do was get up and shoot it, and I had full confidence that it was going in, and it did.”
Furman head coach Bob Ritchie added: “What a Paladin to be.”
Cavs coach Tony Bennett described his team’s loss as “tough.”
“You know, this game — the word I use can be interesting. You think, we’ve got it, we’ve got it, and then all of a sudden at a moment’s notice, at the end it changes.”
Furman will play against No. 5 San Diego State on Saturday.