DENTON, Texas — Armaan Franklin scored 17 straight points, including the first nine of overtime on three 3-pointers, in Virginia’s 71-69 overtime win over North Texas (25-7) Sunday night in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Franklin finished with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting. All five of his field goals were from behind the arc. His five made treys tied his season high, which he set in Virginia’s second game of the season, a 73-52 win over Radford on Nov. 12.
Jayden Gardner also scored 17 points for the Cavaliers. Gardner was 7-of-17 from the floor and added three rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Reece Beekman (13 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists) and Kihei Clark (11 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) also scored in double figures for UVA.
With the win, the Cavaliers (21-13) advance to the NIT quarterfinals, which will be held on either Tuesday (March 22) or Wednesday (March 23).
HOW IT HAPPENED
North Texas held the Cavaliers to without a field goal for the first six minutes of play and jumped out to an 11-4 lead, which tied for its largest of the game. Virginia embarked on a 13-2 run to take a 21-17 lead before the Mean Green signaled for time. Following the called timeout, UNT hit a step-back 3-pointer to break up the Cavaliers’ run, which trimmed UVA’s lead to 21-20. A Mean Green free throw tied the score (21-21) once more before the half, but Virginia tallied five straight points to retake the lead, 26-21, with under 1:00 to play in the first half. The Mean Green converted an and-1 with 14 seconds remaining in the opening half as Virginia clung to a 26-24 lead at the intermission. Clark led Virginia with seven points, including the Cavaliers’ only made 3 of the half. Kody Stattmann came off the bench and grabbed seven rebounds in the first half. Both teams combined to shoot 3-for-14 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes of play.
After the Mean Green opened the second half with a dunk to tie the game, 26-26, the Cavaliers ignited a 10-0 run thanks to three consecutive steals by Beekman, Gardner and Clark. Franklin opened his scoring by connecting on his first 3 with 9:30 remaining in regulation to put the Cavs up 50-41. After back-to-back UNT 3s shrank UVA’s lead to 52-49 with 6:44 left in the second, Franklin gave the Cavaliers some wiggle room with his second 3-pointer one minute later. Franklin’s second 3 would be the last time UVA would score in regulation as North Texas scored six straight points to tie the game 55-55 at the 2:30 mark. Both teams were held scoreless for the remainder of the second half.
Franklin started overtime by going 3-for-3 from behind the arc, which put UVA up 64-58 with 2:50 to play. During a UNT possession, Francisco Caffaro was whistled for a personal foul while contesting a shot in the paint and shortly thereafter was assessed a technical foul, which gave him five personal fouls. With Caffaro and Kadin Shedrick having fouled out, the Cavaliers were without their two centers for the rest of the game.
The Mean Green made three free throws as a result of the pair Caffaro fouls, which cut the UVA lead to 64-61. Gardner and Beekman scored on Virginia’s next two possessions as the Cavaliers found themselves up 68-61 with 1:39 to play. After a UNT 3-pointer made it a four-point game, the Cavaliers missed the front ends of two one-and-one opportunities to keep the Mean Green in the game. A UNT layup with 16 seconds left cut Virginia’s lead – once again – to 68-66. Gardner made a pair of free throws after UNT opted to foul with 13 seconds left, resulting in a 70-66 UVA lead. A second-chance bucket that led to an and-1 for UNT made it a one-point game as UVA led 70-69 with six seconds remaining. Clark was sent to the line with four seconds left and made 1-of-2 free throws with UVA in the double bonus. With the score 71-69 in Virginia’s, the Mean Green, who were without timeouts, had four seconds to go the length of the floor to tie or win the game, but a fadeaway from well beyond the arc kicked high off the backboard and just grazed the rim as time expired.
THE GAME BALL GOES TO:
Armaan Franklin. Franklin reached double figures for the first time in postseason play this season. He scored UVA’s last eight points of the second half and its first nine points of overtime to help the Cavaliers fend off a UNT comeback attempt. Franklin seemingly kept the Cavaliers’ NIT run alive in the second half as the last made UVA field goal by someone other than Franklin was a Clark 3-pointer with 11:13 left in regulation. In addition to his five 3s, Franklin made a pair of free throws, all of which came in the final 14:30 of play. His 17 points are his most since he scored 22 against Miami on Feb. 5.
The Cavaliers will face St. Bonaventure, which won at Oklahoma State on Sunday night. Date, time and location of the UVA’s quarterfinal matchup will post to VirginiaSports.com once determined.