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If you were looking for a game that was going to be slow, methodical and defensively minded, this probably wasn’t your cup of tea right from the opening tip.
Purdue continued to rain threes while Virginia did everything it could—somewhat successfully—to keep pace. The Boilermakers led from the start, but the Cavaliers were never far behind, nipping at the heels of the Big Ten regular-season co-champions.
The ACC regular-season co-champions cut into a Purdue lead that once stood at 10 and trailed by just one at the half, 30-29. And after the first possession of the second half, the Cavs took their first lead of the game.
And the Cavaliers kept right on going. But it was Purdue’s turn to chase. How? The Boilers simply gave the ball to Carsen Edwards. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold—or, more accurately, points.
After a 7-0 Purdue run, the Boilermakers found themselves back in the lead with four minutes remaining.
Back and forth, back and forth, and then, Edwards.
And just when it looked as if Purdue had landed the knockout blow, leading by three with five seconds left and Virginia shooting a pair of free throws, a make and miss combined with an offensive rebound and a last-second prayer two-point shot from Mamadi Diakite sent the game to overtime—because this game was just too good to last only 40 minutes.
Overtime provided more of the same: thrilling, late-March tournament basketball.
More back-and-forth battling, and it came down to a three-point attempt for Edwards. And despite his 10 previous makes, this attempt rolled off the rim. A pair for Virginia free throws pushed the Cavs’ lead to three with 5.7 seconds remaining.
With one more chance, the Boilers didn’t get a shot off. An errant pass from Edwards sailed out of bounds.
One of the best games of the year was essentially decided by a turnover from the guy with one of the best individual performances in NCAA tournament history. Virginia advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1984.
Carsen Edwards, enough said.
Despite the loss, it’s hard to look at a guy who scored 42 points, including 10 made threes, and name anyone else as the top performer.
For Virginia, Kyle Guy had 25 points and 10 rebounds while Ty Jerome had 24
There were so many X-factors. Virginia couldn’t contain Carsen Edwards, but Purdue didn’t have enough firepower from the rest of the roster to pull out the win in the end.
Virginia never let the game get out of reach and used a combination of calm skill, efficiency from the free-throw line (85.0 percent) and a little luck at just the right time to pull out a thrilling, regional-title-clinching victory.
The Virginia Cavaliers will face off in the Final Four against the Kentucky-Auburn winner.
—Updated by David Luther