A rally for the ages
Cavs come back from 16 down to stun Clemson
By Whitelaw Reid / firstname.lastname@example.org
January 29, 2007
CLEMSON, S.C. - When Mamadi Diane’s go-ahead 3-point attempt bounced high off the rim Sunday afternoon, the Virginia-Clemson game was literally up for grabs.
If the Tigers - leading by a point with about 20 seconds to go - could secure the rebound, they would be in prime position to close out the win.
If Virginia could get the offensive rebound, it would get at least one more crack at winning a second-straight league road game - and possibly some redemption for an embarrassing loss at Clemson last year.
As it turned out, UVa got two more cracks - thanks to one of the smallest players on the court.
UVa’s Sean Singletary - all 6 feet of him - soared over three Clemson players to snatch the ball. Singletary tumbled to the floor, then somehow, while laying flat on his back, passed to teammate Adrian Joseph on the wing.
Joseph missed a driving shot, but Jason Cain was there for the put-back with 15 seconds left that silenced the 8,728 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum.
After a Vernon Hamilton shot bounced off the rim at the other end, Virginia secured the rebound and was subsequently able to run out the clock to complete a shocking 16-point, second-half comeback over the No. 19 team in the country.
UVa, behind 18 points from J.R. Reynolds and 11 apiece from Singletary and Joseph, beat Clemson, 64-63.
“It was a tremendous, gutty effort by our guys,” said Virginia coach Dave Leitao. “Clemson is a very good team … I’m extremely proud.
“It was a tremendous, tremendous comeback. In past times, we didn’t have resiliency or especially the mentality to come back.”
Leitao was hardly shocked by Singletary’s rebound.
“That’s adrenaline, that’s competitiveness,” he said. “The last game [against N.C. State] he goes by [Engin] Atsur and dunks it. Well he’s not a dunker, but that’s what he brings outside of himself. Today he did it with probably half the version of himself.”
Singletary played with a bruised shoulder that he sustained during a practice this week.
In the first half, when the lead changed 11 times, he only played 10 minutes because of two fouls. The second came via a technical that he received for elbowing Trevor Booker, who was also hit with a “T.”
Reynolds, who had averaged 34.5 points in his last two games, took awhile to get going. He was scoreless for the game’s first 14 minutes, then hit four straight hoops to put Virginia up 25-23.
A driving Solomon Tat 3-point play in traffic moments later gave UVa a 28-25 lead - its largest of the game.
Clemson (18-4, 4-4) led 34-30 at the break.
The second half began ominously for Virginia (13-6, 5-2). Cain missed a wide-open dunk on the break that could have cut the lead to two.
Shortly after, Clemson broke the game open.
Singletary picked up his fourth foul at the 11:36 mark and headed to the bench with Virginia trailing 52-41.
“I said to them, ‘We’re down 11, but it seems like 40,’” Leitao said. “We just had no life defensively. We were allowing post-ups. We weren’t playing proper pick ’n’ roll defense. We were allowing drives and it just didn’t look why we had [any] energy.”
A Cliff Hammonds 3-pointer gave Clemson a 61-45 lead - its biggest of the game - with 8:47 to play.
However, Virginia proceeded to outscore Clemson 19-2 the rest of the way, including the game’s final 15 points.
“We knew we were still in the game because we hadn’t played the kind of basketball we were capable of playing,” Reynolds said. “After what they did to us last year, this was very big for us to come back and get this win.”
Singletary sensed that Clemson wasn’t finishing strong.
“They had like a spacey look on their faces, as if the game was over,” he said. “We just snuffed it out.
“They were joking. When they got up big and we had a couple of turnovers, and I got my fourth foul, they were just laughing … I knew they were in trouble after that. We didn’t quit.”
Hammonds agreed with Singletary’s assessment.
“I thought we just didn’t have the mentality that we were going to go out and get the game,” said Hammonds, who had 13 points. “They had that mentality coming down the stretch. They wanted it more than we did.
“I’m not sure why that was. They just came out and did the little things you’re supposed to do.”
All you had to do was witness Singletary’s rebound to realize that.
“I think I can jump higher than anybody,” he said, smiling. “I just wanted it more.”
Virginia out-rebounded Clemson, 39-29. … UVa committed 18 turnovers, 11 less than it did in the loss to the Tigers last season. … Singletary was hit with his technical after exchanging words and elbows with Booker. “He elbowed me in the neck, and I couldn’t let him do that and think I was a little punk or something,” Singletary said, “but I have to be smarter than that, though. On the road, you can’t let your emotions get the best of you.” … Leitao said he couldn’t recall a comeback as good as this one. “I don’t have a great memory, but [expletive], excuse my language,” he said. “I don’t know if I can ever remember anything like that.”
Suddenly, Cavs lovin' the road
By Jerry Ratcliffe / email@example.com | 978-7251
January 29, 2007
Perhaps it’s a bit premature to begin referring to Virginia’s basketball team as King of the Road, but after Sunday’s stirring comeback that left a jam-packed Littlejohn Coliseum stunned in silence, the visiting Cavaliers have rid themselves of the “bad road team” label.
Down by 16 points with 8:47 to play, Virginia outscored the 19th-ranked Tigers, 19-2, the rest of the way, including the last 15 points of the game for a dramatic, 64-63 upset.
Road sweet road
What a contrast to recent years when the Cavaliers could hardly buy a road win. Heading into this past week, UVa had lost 23 of its last 27 road games the past two-and-a-half seasons.
All of a sudden, the Cavs have become road warriors, beating N.C. State earlier this week, then doggedly fighting back to literally pluck a win from the jaws of defeat at Clemson. Although UVa had fought from 19 behind in the season opener to upset 10th-ranked Arizona, that game was at home, where the Cavaliers are almost unbeatable.
No wonder coach Dave Leitao couldn’t contain his excitement afterward. Sunday’s win marked the first time Virginia had won back-to-back ACC road games since 2002 against North Carolina and Georgia Tech. It was UVa’s first win over a ranked ACC team on the road since Feb. 6, 2003, when it won at eighth-ranked Maryland.
The turning point
Things began to change Sunday when Leitao called what he hoped would be a run-stopping time out with 12:35 to play. The Tigers had just reeled off a 15-5 streak that left the Cavaliers down 52-41.
“I told them, ‘We’re down 11, but it seems like 40,’” Leitao said. “It didn’t look like we had the kind of energy it was going to take to come back and win the game.”
Things actually got a little worse before they got better because UVa point guard Sean Singletary picked up his third and fourth personal fouls on consecutive trips down the floor and left the game with 11:36.
Meanwhile, Clemson built its lead to 16 before Singletary returned with a vengeance with 7:21 remaining.
Learning from the past
That’s when things turned dramatically for the UVa team and even for Singletary when he was on the bench.
“Actually, [the Tigers] were joking when they got up big,” Singletary said. “They went on a couple of runs, I got my fourth foul and we had a couple of turnovers. They were laughing. I knew they were in trouble after that.”
Singletary came to that conclusion because of past experience.
First of all, he thought back to his first two years in the league and recalled that any time he and his teammates thought they had built a safe enough lead and grew overconfident, it most always resulted in a loss instead. Then there was this other thing ...
“It was the look on my teammates’ faces,” Singletary said. “I haven’t seen that in the whole time I’ve been at Virginia. Everybody really wanted to win. I could see it on their faces. I could see it in their eyes.”
Most of all, he could feel it in his own chest and wisely helped Virginia mount one of the most impressive comebacks in Wahoo history.
While in the past, Singletary would have tried to force his scoring will upon an opponent in a comeback attempt, this time he used his court savvy and leadership skills. He scored but one basket in the rally, a driving layup. But he made a difference with his passing, his rebounding, defense and fire.
“I learned a lot today,” Singletary said about himself. “I was really poised the last eight minutes or so. I haven’t learned that in the more than two years I have been here. I really trusted my teammates today.”
So, what exactly did he mean by that?
“Before, when we were down like that, I would always feel like I should take it upon my shoulders to shoot us back into the game, but most of the time I would shoot us out of the game,” Singletary revealed. “Even in Puerto Rico, I felt like that. Today, I didn’t press.
“Instead, I stepped up my defense and, when you’re pressuring the ball and you’re not allowing any dribble penetration, that fuels the whole team’s defensive energy. We were able to do that the last five minutes.”
Instead of trying to shoot the Cavs back into the lead, Singletary trusted his teammates to get the job done. He chose to put the ball in the hands of whoever was hot: i.e. J.R. Reynolds and Adrian Joseph, who combined to score 15 of UVa’s final 19 points.
Even though Joseph, who gives the Cavs a scoring spark off the bench, got off to a slow start, Singletary knew that the sharpshooter is usually good for about “90 percent” when he’s open on the wing.
Reynolds, of course, has had one of the hottest hands in the league the past couple of weeks.
He and Singletary agreed it was one of the biggest wins of their career, mostly because it came against a good defensive team on the road. The Tigers, enjoying their most success in nearly a decade, took a blow to continuing the momentum they had built in compiling an 18-3 record (4-3 ACC) prior to Sunday’s game.
“Having a chance at Duke, then losing this lead at home back-to-back really hurts,” said Clemson guard Vernon Hamilton. “It hurts more because I’m from Virginia (Richmond) and we were up 16. Not being able to pull it off is the hardest loss I’ve ever experienced.”
Beating the Tigers was huge for Virginia, now 13-6 overall and 5-2 in the ACC. Because the two teams only meet once in the regular season, should things come down to a tiebreaker situation in league standings at the end, the Cavs would have the upper hand.
Even more importantly, UVa has two conference road wins halfway through the conference schedule, which could be one key in making it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000.
But only if the Cavs keep winning like they have the past couple of weeks.
Virginia is on a major roll, having won four in a row (all in the ACC), and with Duke and Miami coming to town this week.
“I really can’t imagine anything better than that,” Singletary said. “We’ve got a lot of momentum and we’re definitely coming back to John Paul Jones [Arena] with a lot of energy. The place will be packed for Duke on Thursday night. I can’t wait.”
In what could be the biggest home game for Virginia basketball since 2000, a win over Duke would not only provide the Cavs with a giant step forward in postseason hopes, but in making them a legitimate contender in the ACC.
King of the Road. Has a nice ring.
Cavs stun Tigers 64-63
U.Va. scores final 15 points; downs Clemson
BY JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jan 29, 2007
CLEMSON, S.C. -- University of Virginia guard J.R. Reynolds is only 22, so perhaps it's no surprise that he'd never been part of a comeback like the one that occurred yesterday at Littlejohn Coliseum. But his coach, 46-year-old Dave Leitao, has been in basketball considerably longer.
"I told the group, I've been fortunate to be around a lot of great games," Leitao said, "but I'm not sure I've seen one like that before."
Down 16 points against 19th-ranked Clemson with 8 minutes left, U.Va. refused to surrender. The Cavaliers scored the game's final 15 points -- and 19 of the last 21 -- to prevail 64-63 before a shocked crowd of 8,728 at Littlejohn.
"We just stuck together," said junior point guard Sean Singletary, who shrugged off a sore elbow and shoulder to score 11 points and grab seven rebounds, the last of which won't soon be forgotten by U.Va. fans.
The Cavaliers (5-2 ACC, 13-6) took the lead for good after a wild sequence. After a Clemson turnover with 31.1 seconds left and the score 63-62, Virginia inbounded the ball to Singletary. The Tigers had only four second-half fouls at that point, and senior point guard Vernon Hamilton challenged Singletary near midcourt.
"We were trying to foul," said Hamilton, a former Benedictine High star. "We knew we had fouls to give."
But Hamilton slipped. Singletary dribbled past him and passed to sophomore swingman Mamadi Diane, who was open outside the arc. Diane's 3-point attempt missed, but the 6-foot Singletary leaped -- up, up and over 6-9, 222-pound James Mays -- to grab the rebound.
"I was surprised at first," said Mays, an exceptional athlete who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. "But I guess he got up a little higher than I did. I thought I had it."
Singletary crashed to the court with the rebound, but managed to spot and pass the ball to Adrian Joseph. The junior forward, who hit two treys and a jumper in U.Va.'s game-ending run, missed a contested layup, but the rebound went to 6-10 senior Jason Cain, who tipped in the game-winner with 15.5 seconds left.
"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," said Cain, who finished with four points and six rebounds.
The defeat was the second straight for the Tigers (4-4, 18-4), who lost Thursday at Duke on a controversial last-second shot. This one, Hamilton said, was "definitely harder to take. We had complete control of the game."
Clemson scored only two points in the final 8:45 yesterday.
After Cain's basket, the Tigers opted not to call a timeout. Hamilton, who led Clemson with 16 points, drove and put up an off-balance floater. The 6-5 Diane grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 8.6 seconds remaining. Virginia inbounded and ran the clock down to seventh-tenths of a second before the Tigers could foul again, at which point Singletary jumped into the arms of freshman Solomon Tat.
"I knew we had it," Singletary said.
Reynolds, a senior, led all scorers with 18 points. He has 87 in his past three games.
"That was a big win for us," Reynolds said, "the way we stayed together and just believed in one another. Everybody contributed to this."
For the Wahoos, the victory was their first on the road over a ranked opponent since Feb. 6, 2003, when they upset No. 8 Maryland in College Park. Virginia, which won at N.C. State last week, has posted consecutive ACC road victories for the first time since January 2002.
In the season opener against Arizona, U.Va. won after falling behind by 19 in the first half. But that game was at John Paul Jones Arena, where Leitao's team has been all but invincible. This was more improbable and more impressive.
With 5:05 left, Trevor Booker made two free throws to give Clemson a 63-49 lead, and there was no reason to believe the Cavaliers weren't finished.
At the 3:57 mark, however, Joseph's trey made it 63-52. At 2:55, Reynolds' 3-pointer made it 63-55. At 2:00, Reynolds' pullup jumper made it 63-57, and the home fans' uneasiness became palpable.
At 1:33, Joseph buried another 3-pointer to make it 63-60. Forty-seconds later, he hit a 12-footer to make it a one-point game.
"It's just mental resiliency," Leitao said. "I think those guys got some."
No substitute for Cavs' experience
Sewell, Cavs' veterans too much for younger Va. Tech in Rumble
BY SENECA CONTOMANOLIS
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jan 29, 2007
There are a number of similarities between the Virginia and Virginia Tech wrestling teams.
Both have first-year head coaches, both overall are fairly young and both have impressive recruiting classes coming in for the 2007-08 seasons.
Though for head coach Steve Garland and the Cavaliers a little more experience proved to be the difference yesterday during Virginia's 25-9 victory over the Hokies at the fifth annual Rumble on the River at St. Christopher's.
"You can't put that into words what that means. We call it 'mat sense' in our sport," Garland said. "Our team probably has competed in a few more [collegiate] matches then theirs."
Out of the seven matches where Virginia fielded a wrestler older then his opponent, the Cavaliers came out on top in five. The Hokies (0-3, 5-8) start six freshman to U.Va.'s two.
The teams traded victories at each weight class through the first four matches giving the Cavaliers a slim 9-6 advantage heading into the 157 pound match up between U.Va. sophomore Mike Sewell and Virginia Tech freshman Derek Gallagher.
Sewell dominated Gallagher leading 4-1 after the first period, 7-1 after the second and won 9-2 to earn U.Va. four more points, one extra for a major decision victory.
"Sewell's win at 157 changed the whole momentum of the match," Garland said. "It was huge. It changed the whole mindset of our team."
Sewell attributed his success to his strategy during his bout, but he did not want to take full credit for why his team won the match.
"I came out and wrestled very physical. I dictated the match the whole time," Sewell said. "After me, Damian [Johnson] got a tough win over Decker and then [Mike] Grogan stepped it up too."
After Sewell's victory, the Cavaliers (1-1, 5-6) went on to win four of the last five bouts. The only one they didn't win had been touted as the match of the day and it pitted U.Va. sophomore Rocco Caponi, ranked 19th in the nation, against Virginia Tech senior Steve Borja at 184 pounds.
The two had split wins in matches last season and Borja came out quick yesterday picking up two takedowns in the first period. He then played defense and hung on for a 5-3 decision earning him the top-seed in the ACC tournament.
"Our matches last year were both close. I'm more confident in my skills this year," Borja said. "He is a tough wrestler and a good guy but I just focused on myself and what I can do."
Garland, still adapting to life as a head coach, was pleased with his team's victory.
"I thought we wrestled well. We needed this win after having so many close losses lately," Garland said. "There is a lot more pressure on me being a head coach. I have had to re-teach myself on being more patient."
Not road tripped
The Cavaliers overcome a 14-point deficit to capture their second consecutive victory away from home.
By Doug Doughty
CLEMSON, S.C. -- As a self-described basketball junkie who frequently talks about how many games he watches, Dave Leitao admits that his memory often fails him when he's asked to provide details.
That probably won't be the case with visiting Virginia's 64-63 triumph Sunday over 19th-ranked Clemson.
"I told our guys, 'I'm not sure if I've ever seen a game like this before,' " Leitao said.
The Cavaliers, who had gone more than a year between road victories, scored the last 15 points Sunday to steal their second road win of the week.
Jason Cain's tip-in with 17 seconds lifted UVa (13-6, 5-2 ACC) past the Tigers, whose last points came on a pair of Trevor Booker free throws that made it 63-49 with 5:05 remaining.
Clemson (18-4, 4-4) had led by as much as 61-45 on a Cliff Hammonds 3-pointer with 8:47 left.
"I told them when got to a timeout at 52-41, 'We're down by 11, but it seems like 40,' " said Leitao, whose Cavaliers were the victims of a 90-64 drubbing here last year.
"It didn't look like we had the kind of energy it was going to take to come back and win the ballgame."
Moments after the timeout, All-ACC point guard Sean Singletary picked up two charging fouls in the span of 26 seconds, giving him four personals and sending him to the bench with 11:36 left.
Singletary did not contribute a basket to the game-ending 15-0 run, but it was his rebound of Mamadi Diane's missed 3-pointer that allowed Virginia to keep possession with 20 seconds left.
"You know me," said Singletary, a 6-foot junior. "I think I can jump higher than anybody out there."
As he was crashing to the floor, Singletary passed to Adrian Joseph, who failed to convert on a drive from the right corner, only to have Cain get the game-winning tip. It was Cain's only field goal of the game.
"Everybody ran past me to get to Adrian," Cain said. "I was almost by myself."
Clemson's Vernon Hamilton took the ensuing inbounds pass and sped down the floor, but his contested one-hander went over the basket and was controlled by Diane.
"Very gratifying," Cain called the win. "I can't remember the last time we've won back-to-back road games."
In the careers of their two seniors, Cain and J.R. Reynolds, the Cavaliers had never won more than one ACC road game in any season. That was before Virginia won 71-58 Wednesday at North Carolina State and then stunned the Tigers.
It was just one more memory for Reynolds, who had scored 40 and 29 points in his previous two games. He led all scorers Sunday with 18 points, making eight of 12 shots from the field.
Reynolds had five points during the 15-0 run, when the Cavaliers were led by Joseph, who scored eight of his 11 points in the final 3:59.
"Of all the guys that sometimes can get distracted by the surroundings, Adrian, by his personality, never does," Leitao said. "At times, you'd want him to be a little bit more charged and he really isn't. At times, when you think he'd get bothered, he really isn't.
"He just kind of lives in that box mentally. The fact that he made a big '3' on the road last year at [Virginia] Tech speaks to a mindset."
Apparently, it also didn't bother Joseph that he had gone scoreless Wednesday at N.C. State and had seen his scoring average drop from 10.1 to 7.5 since mid-December.
It was the second straight bitter loss for Clemson, still reeling from a 68-66 loss at Duke on Thursday night, when the Blue Devils scored at the buzzer after time was added to the clock -- incorrectly, according to the ACC office.
"We have to get it back together," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We're fortuntate to have a week off to do so. I think we came out flat in the first half but picked it up in the second half. Playing one of the most explosive teams in the ACC caught up with us."
For all of its heroics, Virginia needed some help from the Tigers, who entered the game with the ACC's lowest free-throw percentage (58.9).
Clemson was 9-for-13 from the line before James Mays missed two free throws with the Tigers leading 63-55 with 2:28 left. Then, after a jumper by Reynolds, Hamilton missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:55 remaining.
Reynolds tried to console his one-time Virginia private-school rival and friend after the game.
"He broke my heart last year," said Reynolds, who had not previously played on a losing team in his battles with Hamilton. "Once was one too many."
Cavaliers receive commitment from WR
Multiple recruiting Websites reported Sunday that Virginia received a football commitment from Jared Green, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound wide receiver from Oakton High School in Vienna.
Green, whose father is former Washington Redskins defensive back Darrell Green, had 17 receptions for 245 yards and four touchdowns this past season.
-- Doug Doughty
Oakton's Jared Green stayed one step ahead of Percy Harvin
By PAUL WHITE, The Virginian-Pilot
© December 10, 2005
HAMPTON — The way the Oakton Cougars figured it, before they could beat Percy Harvin, they had to find a player willing to BE Percy Harvin.
Someone capable of approximating the speed, moves and versatility of Landstown’s dynamic star to prepare the Cougars’ defense for Saturday’s Group AAA Division 6 state title game.
Jared Green took on the role and handled it so well that the Cougars continually seemed one step ahead of Harvin and the Eagles in their stunning 28-7 victory at Darling Stadium.
Yet afterward, a sympathetic Green said he could feel Harvin’s pain.
In his legs. His arms. And his head. Especially his head.
''I’ve never been hit so many times in my life,’’ said Green, an Oakton wide receiver and the son of former Washington Redskins star Darrell Green. ''I mean, getting my helmet knocked off, having three guys pound me, they tore me up.
''But I’m proud of it. By the time we got through with practice, we knew exactly what he was going to do.’’
To be fair, no one would confuse Green, a 6-foot-2, 155-pounder, for the explosively built Harvin. But like his dad, the son can flat-out fly. So Oakton coach Joe Thompson called out Green, crossed his fingers and hoped his speedy-but-slender junior could at least come close.
''I just told him to work your tail off to become Percy,’’ Thompson said. Green spent two days studying tapes of Harvin lining up in the backfield, at wideout and under center, then mimicked Harvin’s moves on the scout team for the Cougars’ first-team defense. Latest Videos
Inspired, the defenders took turns lighting ''Harvin’’ up.
''We beat the crap out of him,’’ said senior Keith Payne, Oakton’s star player. But while Green was picking himself off the turf, the Cougars’ defenders were getting a crash course in the variety of threats Harvin poses.
Normally, just knowing what Harvin is going to do isn’t enough; opponents have to catch him, too. But the loose and soggy Darling Stadium turf appeared to neutralize some of Harvin’s speed and cutting ability. Oakton’s defensive scheme took care of the rest.
Although Payne, bound for the University of Virginia, typically plays only running back and sparingly on defense, the Cougars assigned him to shadow Harvin all over the field Saturday. In addition to rushing for 245 yards and four touchdowns, Payne also played every defensive snap.
Other defenders swarmed Harvin when he tried to get to the perimeter on running plays. And two defensive backs bracketed him in pass coverage.
''After a while, they didn’t even throw the ball to him that much,’’ Payne said. ''I don’t know why.’’
Green had a pretty good idea. So schooled were the Cougars on Harvin’s tendencies that Green said he was actually shouting out Landstown’s plays from the sideline based on where Harvin would line up.
''Harvin’s a great player, but we thought if we could take him away, the other guys couldn’t beat us,’’ Payne said.
Green’s satisfaction from the victory had to come mainly from his scout-team pursuits, because with the Cougars’ running game working so well, they attempted just six passes, none in the second half.
But he said there’s always next year, when maybe the Cougars will pass more. Maybe someone else will be the scout-team soldier.
And maybe he’ll finally outrun his famous father.
''I ran a 4.4 last summer, but he turned around and did a 4.3,’’ Green said. ''I mean, the guy’s 45 years old, and I still can’t beat him.’’
One heckUVA comeback
Jason Cain caps the Cavaliers' dramatic rally with a game-winning basket at Clemson.
BY ELI PACHECO/CORRESPONDENT
January 28, 2007, 5:57 PM EST
CLEMSON, S.C. -- With the game on the line and an implausible 16-point rally for a victory one basket from completion, Virginia senior forward Jason Cain blew his assignment.
He forgot it, actually -- with less than 30 seconds left Sunday, in the midst of the orange-and-purple din of No. 19 Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum.
Cain, with only two free throws to his credit and hearing jeers from the Clemson crowd, failed to set a screen, as assigned, for Adrian Joseph. But Cain made up for it by capping the Cavaliers' comeback with a gritty, two-rebound winning possession when he tipped in Joseph's miss from short range on the right wing with 15.5 seconds left.
Cain's first basket of the game gave Virginia a 64-63 victory that left the Tigers' contingent, still cantankerous three days after a controversial loss to Duke, hushed and bewildered.
"This one will hurt," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "But (we) have to rejuvenate and fight on."
Cain's slip mattered little when the Virginia bench rose in a sharp wave as his shot passed through the basket. It was a grand cap to a game that stood 61-47 with less than eight minutes to play. Cain dove to the floor for one rebound on the possession, and Sean Singletary soared for another to keep the drive alive.
"I don't have a great memory, but (shoot), I don't remember anything like that," said Cavaliers coach Dave Leitao, whose team has won four straight in the Atlantic Coast Conference and hosts Duke at 9 p.m. Thursday. "When we were down 11, it felt more like 40. We talked about needing three straight stops."
They got more than that. Virginia (13-6, 5-2 ACC) scored the game's final 15 points. When Cliff Hammonds hit a 3-pointer with 8:50 left to give Clemson a 61-45 lead, who could have known it would be Clemson's final basket?
Who could have known Virginia, the league leader in 3-point percentage but struggling with its range Sunday (2-for-8 in the first half), would make three in the game-turning run?
"We're a good 3-point shooting team," Leitao said. "We make more than anybody in the league and we take more than anybody in the league. We work on it a lot, and we have guys who can shoot it. We hadn't been in a really good rhythm. It's something we can go to, and we went to it."
Clemson's late-game calamity did its part.
After Hammonds' 3-pointer, Clemson hit two free throws the rest of the way. Mixed in during its worrisome stretch was James Mays' traveling violation on the baseline, K.C. Rivers' stepping on the sideline after receiving a pass, three straight missed free throws and a foul.
Richmond native Vernon Hamilton scored 16 and Mays finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Clemson (18-4, 4-4), which had 10 fewer offensive rebounds than Virginia. Hammonds scored 13.
J.R. Reynolds, who sat out the key sequence with back spasms, led Virginia with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and was clutch when few others were. Singletary added 11 points, as did Joseph, who had seven during the 15-0 run.
Singletary, Reynolds and Joseph fueled the winning run. None had been involved in such a rally, they said. It was another first for the man with the quick hands in the end.
"I've never hit the game-winning shot, either," Cain said.
Solid expectations for Zimmerman
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman returns home briefly.
BY MELINDA WALDROP
January 29, 2007
VIRGINIA BEACH -- Ryan Zimmerman has at least one person left to impress.
After a rookie season with the Washington Nationals that saw him rack up a team-best 110 RBI and finish second in the closest rookie of the year voting in history, Zimmerman, a Virginia Beach native, returned to his roots on Sunday. Zimmerman joined Nationals pitcher Mike O'Connor, center fielder Nook Logan and new manager Manny Acta at the Princess Anne Recreation Center to lead fielding and hitting drills and sign autographs as part of the team's Winter Caravan, aimed at drumming up offseason interest.
But one young boy who proffered a hat for a signature apparently was a bit underwhelmed by Zimmerman's 20 home runs and 10 first-place National League rookie of the year votes (second to Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez's 14).
"Will this be worth anything one day?" the kid asked. "Like if you get into the Hall of Fame?"
Cooperstown may yet be a ways off, but Zimmerman has already come quite far in a short time.
Drafted by the Nationals out of the University of Virginia with the fourth overall pick in 2005, Zimmerman was called up to the big leagues on Sept. 1 and played 20 games. Going into spring training last season, the Nats told Zimmerman the third baseman's job was his.
"All they really wanted me to do was play solid defense," Zimmerman said. "I don't think they really knew what to expect offensively, (but) they were willing to take the chance that I was going to put up decent numbers at the plate."
Zimmerman did more than that, tying the franchise's rookie home run record.
"The RBIs didn't surprise me. The home runs did," said Sinclair Jones, who coached Zimmerman at Kellam High School and helped with drills on Sunday. "(In high school), he didn't have a home run probably until the summer before his junior year in summer league."
Zimmerman's .393 batting average in his final season at Virginia included just six home runs, but "I knew he could play the game, and I knew his defense came to play every day," U.Va. coach Brian O'Connor said. "It was just a matter of how quickly he made the adjustment to that level of pitching, and it appears he's made that adjustment pretty quick."
So quickly that even his biggest fans were a bit taken aback.
"It's something that you hope for," Zimmerman's mom, Cheryl, said Sunday. "It of course went a lot quicker than we ever thought."
Cheryl, who's battled multiple sclerosis since 1995, watched Sunday's events from her wheelchair, while Ryan's father, Keith, a supervisor at the recreation center, fielded repeated requests for interviews.
"It's pretty cool," Keith Zimmerman said. "He's a hard-working kid, keeps his nose clean. It's nice to see him reach some of his goals."
The pressure will no doubt be on Ryan Zimmerman to repeat his rookie success on a 2007 Nats team with a suspect starting rotation and without outfielder Alfonso Soriano, now with the Cubs. But that's just how Zimmerman wants it.
"You want to have expectations," he said. "I think it makes you work a little bit harder now, and it makes you want to prove to everyone that it wasn't just a one-year thing." ?
An untimely collapse turns Tigers’ mood
Cavs steal victory with game-ending 15-0 run; Clemson staggers into open date
By PAUL STRELOW
CLEMSON — Blame Clemson for this timing error.
The team that produced five points in 0.6 seconds three days earlier went nearly nine minutes without a basket Sunday
As a result, the Tigers blew a 16-point second-half lead at home in a 64-63 loss to Virginia.
Forward Jason Cain’s tap-in with 15.5 seconds left capped a 15-0 game-ending Virginia run that threw an unexpected turn into Clemson’s turnaround season.
The 19th-ranked Tigers (18-4) dropped to 4-4 in the ACC, which will leave them in sixth place, at best, when other teams reach their halfway marks.
An NCAA Tournament bid remains well within reach, but it no longer can be taken for granted.
“This feeling we’ve got right now, it feels like the Clemson teams of the past,” junior forward James Mays said. “And I don’t want to go back there.”
Sunday’s collapse forced school officials to dig deep into the record books to find any comparable loss. The best they could do was a 9-0 game-ending run by Virginia in a 73-71 decision in February 1967.
This time, the Cavaliers (13-6, 5-2) scored baskets on their final six possessions to hand Clemson its second late loss in as many games.
“I don’t have a great memory, but I don’t think I can remember anything like that,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said.
Clemson coach Oliver Purnell had expressed concern about an emotional letdown following Thursday’s controversial 68-66 loss at No. 10 Duke.
Purnell said the Tigers obviously had something left based on the huge cushion they built. However, another emotionally draining defeat means the team’s open date this week comes at a good time.
Clemson does not play again until Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at Georgia Tech.
“This will hurt,” Purnell said. “But we do have some time off to rejuvenate ourselves, recharge the emotional tank and come back out and fight on.”
The fight Saturday seemed over when junior guard Cliff Hammonds sank a 3-pointer to give Clemson a 61-45 lead, its largest, with 8:47 left.
In their final 13 possessions, the Tigers went 0-for-7 from the field, 2-for-5 from the foul line and committed four turnovers. Their only points in the stretch were freshman center Trevor Booker’s two free throws with 5:05 remaining.
The Cavaliers trailed 63-49 before reserve forward Adrian Joseph and guard J.R. Reynolds sank 3-pointers that reduced the deficit to eight with 2:56 left.
Reynolds scored a game-high 18 points. Although Sean Singletary finished with 11 — his second-lowest output of the season — he came up big in the end.
With Clemson leading 63-62, guard K.C. Rivers stepped out of bounds on the wing with 0:31 left.
As Singletary dribbled up the court, he made contact with Hamilton, who fell down on what he said was a push-off.
Singletary kept going and dished to Mamadi Diane, who missed a 3-pointer.
Singletary soared for the rebound over a Clemson defender, fell to the floor and passed to Joseph on the perimeter. Joseph missed the long jumper, but Cain went unchecked to the rim for the decisive tip-in.
Hamilton raced back down but missed a contested baseline floater long with 0:10 left.
A .500 ACC record is far from the visions of grandeur Clemson possessed a week ago.
“How we finish these last eight games will determine how far we go,” Hamilton said.
Senior point guard Vernon Hamilton had 16 points. Mays added 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Tigers.
Cavs make late run to stun Tigers
Barney Breen-Portnoy, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Down by 14 points with five minutes remaining in Sunday afternoon's game at Clemson, the situation looked dire for Virginia. But the Cavaliers improbably rallied to score the last 15 points of the game and shock No. 19 Clemson 64-63 in front of a stunned crowd of 8,728 at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"That was a tremendous, gutty effort by our guys," Virginia coach Dave Leitao said of the 15-0 run. "I don't know that I remember anything like that."
With 15 seconds left, Jason Cain tipped in a missed shot by Adrian Joseph to give Virginia (13-6, 5-2 ACC) the lead that it would not relinquish.
J.R. Reynolds scored 18 points to lead Virginia. The senior shooting guard has now led the Cavaliers in scoring in each of the past three games.
"This was very big for us to get this win, especially after what they did to us last year," Reynolds said, referring to a 90-64 loss at Clemson last February.
Joseph and Sean Singletary each scored 11 points while Mamadi Diane added 10.
"Once Adrian got going, I knew that we had a lot of firepower," Singletary said. "They had to play us honest. I was able to get in the paint sometimes and kick it out to Adrian. J.R. was also able to come off screens and knock it down."
The win was Virginia's first on the road against a ranked opponent since 2003. The Cavaliers have now won two straight conference road games. Last season, Virginia won only one conference game away from Charlottesville.
"Last year, not winning on the road was one of our main problems," Joseph said. "It's tough to beat us at home so we're trying to make it tough to beat us on the road as well."
The first half featured 11 lead changes as the two squads battled back and forth. A bucket by Cliff Hammonds gave Clemson a 34-30 lead at halftime.
The Tigers (18-4, 4-4 ACC) quickly seized the momentum early in the second half. Clemson took its largest lead of the game, 61-45, when Hammonds swished a three-pointer with 8:47 remaining.
"We just had no life defensively," Leitao said. "We were allowing post-ups, not playing proper pick-and-roll defense and we were allowing drives."
But after Trevor Booker hit two free throws for the Tigers with 5:05 remaining, Clemson's offense went into a shell.
In the closing minutes, Joseph scored eight points on two three-pointers and one shorter jumper.
"Adrian came in and did a great job," Reynolds said. "He hit some big shots."
With Virginia trailing 63-62 and 31 seconds left on the clock, Clemson's K.C. Rivers stepped out of bounds, turning the ball over to the Cavaliers. Virginia moved the ball down the court where Diane missed a three. But Singletary pulled down the offensive rebound, keeping the possession alive. Joseph missed a driving lay-up but Cain finished the job with a clutch tip-in.
"He was just there," Leitao said. "We had a couple of shots. The defense was a little bit displaced. They weren't in natural rebounding position, so it put [Cain] out in front of the basket."
Cavaliers excel against nation's best
Virginia finishes weekend with big wins over No. 13 Notre Dame and No. 5 Illinois
Campbell Grant, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
By Campbell Grant Cavalier Daily Associate Editor This weekend the Cavaliers continued their great start to the season, taking down No. 13 Notre Dame 6-1 Friday and then capping the weekend by upsetting No. 5 Illinois 5-2 Sunday. The victory over Illinois was a rematch of a match against the Fighting Illini that Virginia lost last year 4-3 in Champaign, Ill.
Against Illinois, the Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead, winning the doubles point to go ahead 1-0. Freshmen Dominic Inglot and Houston Barrick led the way, winning their doubles match 8-4 over Ryan Rowe and Brandon Davis. Inglot and Barrick picked up a break in the seventh game with the score tied at three. Barrick used a strong backhand down the line to pick up a break to make the score 7-4 and seal the win.
The No. 7-ranked doubles pair of juniors Somdev Devvarman and Treat Huey was upset in its match by Kevin Anderson and Ruben Gonzales, but freshman Lee Singer and junior Ted Angelinos prevailed over GD Jones and Marc Spicijaric to give Virginia the point.
"Today we just came out and played unbelievable." Huey said. "Especially the younger guys, Lee just came in and played amazing tennis and Ted played great and without them in doubles we couldn't have done much."
In the singles matches, Singer struck first for the Cavaliers, defeating Davis 6-3, 6-0. After losing the first three, Singer reeled off wins in 12 straight games to win the match.
"I got off to a little of a slow start there, and I just picked it up." Singer said. "My teammates were just pumping each other up on the side, I think that helped a lot."
Angelinos won the first two games of his match and won a break in the sixth game to upset No. 83 Marc Spicijaric 6-1, 6-3 giving Virginia their third point of the match. The win by Angelinos put the Cavaliers up 3-0, needing only one more point to win the dual match.
Huey would provide the decisive point. Facing off against Gonzales, Huey used an ace in the eighth game to hold serve and tie the score at 4-4. The junior picked up a break in the next game, and went on to win the set 6-4.
"He was definitely wearing down right there," Huey said. "From then on, I just raised my level a little and he couldn't keep up."
Huey easily won the second set 6-2 to give the Cavaliers the fourth point they needed to wrap up the match. Huey used a variety of drop shots to defeat Gonzales, often faking as if he would hit it long and then at the last moment pushing the ball just over the net.
In No. 8 Devvarman's match against No. 23 Kevin Anderson, Devvarman fought back in the second set to get to a tie-break and eventually won 4-6, 7-6 (5), 1-0 (10-8) to make the final score 5-2.
Virginia started strong Friday against No. 13 Notre Dame, sweeping all three doubles matches and going on to rout the Fighting Irish 6-1. Huey and Devvarman set the tone for the rest of the match when they took down No. 11 doubles pair Ryan Keckley and Sheeva Parbhu 8-4.
The Cavaliers looked strong after beating two ranked teams this weekend, giving them plenty of confidence for the rest of the season.