CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — With six seconds remaining in Friday’s game, Jayden Gardner grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a step-back jumper that rattled around the rim and eventually dropped through the net with 0.9 seconds left as Virginia (6-3-, 1-0 ACC) held on to defeat Pitt (2-6, 0-1 ACC) at John Paul Jones Arena. Gardner finished with a game-high 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, tallied five rebounds and tied his career high of four assists.
Virginia trailed 56-52 before Gardner converted an and-1 with 10 seconds remaining. Then, Virginia forced a five-second violation on the inbound attempt by the Panthers following Gardner’s made free throw.
Armaan Franklin tallied 10 points after shooting 5-of-14 from the floor and Kihei Clark added nine points on 2-for-4 shooting, including 1-for-2 from 3-point range and was 4-for-4 at the free-throw line.
With the win, Virginia has won its last 14 ACC openers, including 13 in a row under head coach Tony Bennett.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After there were eight lead changes to start the game, Virginia went on a 14-2 run to take a 30-20 lead at the final media timeout of the opening half. The Cavalier defense forced eight straight missed Panther field goal attempts, which spanned for nearly eight minutes of game time. However, Pitt closed out the first half on 6-0 run to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 30-26 at the half. Coming off the bench, Francisco Caffaro provided a spark for UVA as he scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting. With the help of Caffaro, the Cavaliers outscored the Panthers 16-6 in the paint in the first half.
Pitt continued stretched its scoring run to 10 unanswered points to tie the game 30-30 early in the second half and eventually took the lead on a made 3-pointer at the 17:05 mark. Virginia regained the lead once again and ultimately led for most of the second half, but an 11-0 run by Pitt gave the Panthers a 56-52 advantage with 25 seconds remaining before Gardner saved the day for the Cavaliers.
THE GAME BALL GOES TO:
Jayden Gardner. Gardner scored the final five points of the game, all of which came in the final 10 seconds of play. He scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting in the second half. Gardner’s game-winning shot marked the first last-second shot to win a game by a Cavalier since Reece Beekman’s game-winning 3-pointer as time expired against Syracuse (March 11) in the first round of last season’s ACC Tournament.
Virginia travels to James Madison (7-2) for a nonconference tilt on Tuesday, Dec. 7. Tipoff at Atlantic Union Bank Center is set for 6:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.