Billet Leads Cavs Over Rutgers, 61-57
Dec 21, 2002
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) – Todd Billet scored 22 points in his return toRutgers and made the game-winning foul shots with 13.8 seconds remaining tolead Virginia to a 61-57 win over the Scarlet Knights on Saturday.
Virginia (6-2), which has won three straight games, snapped a two-gamewinning streak by Rutgers (5-3).
After a 3-pointer by Rutgers’ Ricky Shields tied the game at 57-57 with 19.8seconds left, Rutgers called a time-out to set up its defense.
After the Cavaliers inbounded, Billet dribbled up the left side and wastripped by Mike Sherrod. Staring into a hostile student section that hadharassed him all game, Billet calmly sank both foul shots.
Shields then missed a driving layup attempt and Virginia’s Jason Clark wasfouled by Jerome Coleman after getting the rebound. Clark sank both foul shotswith 4.1 seconds left to seal the win.
Billet, who transferred from Rutgers after the 2000-01 season, returnedSaturday to an angry sellout crowd.
Rutgers fans wore anti-Billet T-shirts, and the entire arena booed loudlywhen the junior guard was introduced. A banner in the student section saidBillet = Traitor.
After an outstanding first half, Billet struggled offensively after pickingup his fourth foul with 16:39 left in the second period. He played the final14:26 and eventually came to life down the stretch.
Trailing 42-37, Rutgers snapped a scoreless drought of 4:42 when Sherrod hita driving layup to start an 11-2 run that gave the Knights a 48-44 lead.Virginia rallied for a 49-48 edge, with Billet’s 3-pointer starting the run.That started a string of two lead changes and three ties in the final 5:44.
Keith Jenifer, who scored six points in the final 3:06, hit a baselinejumper and Elton Brown made two foul shots to give Virginia a 55-51 lead. ButRutgers sandwiched 3-pointers by Coleman and Shields around two Brown foulshots to tie it 57-57 with 19.8 seconds left, giving Billet the chance to be ahero.
Billet finished with four assists and four turnovers while shooting8-for-17. Clark had 12 points and Jenifer added nine. Shields had 14 points forRutgers, while Sean Axani had a career-high 13. Herve Lamizana added 11 pointsand eight rebounds.
Billet made his first shot of the night on a driving layup, and proceeded tomake five of his first seven shots and shoot 6-for-10 en route to 14 points andthree assists in the first half.
With Virginia holding a 17-15 lead, Billet scored seven points in an 11-0run as the Cavaliers opened a 28-15 lead.
Rutgers went 6:48 without a point, shooting 0-for-14 with two turnoversduring that time. The Knights cut the deficit to 31-24 as Sean Axani scored sixpoints in a 9-3 run, and the score was 33-24 at halftime.
Billet, whose brother Geoff played four seasons at Rutgers, averaged 14.6points during his two seasons with the Scarlet Knights. He announced he wasleaving Rutgers the same day the Knights announced the hiring of Gary Waters ashead coach.