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Late Free Throw Misses Doom Virginia in 52-51 Loss to St. Bonaventure

UVA's season comes to an end in the quarterfinals of the NIT
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Virginia's season came to end on Tuesday night as the Cavaliers fell to St. Bonaventure 52-51 in the quarterfinals of the NIT on Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena. 

Virginia started the game strong and an Armaan Franklin four-point play gave the Cavaliers an early 11-8 lead. UVA then endured a stretch of over ten minutes in which the Cavaliers made only one field goal. St. Bonaventure took advantage, building a lead as large as six points, and the Bonnies led 21-17 at halftime. 

The second half was a game of runs. Jayden Gardner scored six of Virginia's first eight points and the Hoos made six of seven shots to go back in front. UVA remained in front for the next several minutes but was unable to build a comfortable lead. 

A quick 7-0 burst from St. Bonaventure put the Bonnies back in front, but Virginia immediately answered with eight straight points over the next two minutes. Continuing his hot-shooting from the game at North Texas on Sunday, Armaan Franklin hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cap the 8-0 UVA run. Franklin made five three-pointers and led Virginia with 17 points. 

A few questionable calls went against UVA down the stretch and allowed St. Bonaventure to get back in the game. Reece Beekman was called for an offensive foul, his fourth personal of the game. The Bonnies hit two free throws on their next possession and then Beekman was called for another offensive foul, as the officials rewarded a blatant flop from Jaren Holmes and Beekman fouled out of the game. 

With UVA's best defender out of the game, Dominick Welch hit an off-balance three-pointer to cut it to a one-point game with 20.8 seconds remaining. 

Virginia had been playing with fire with missed free throws late in its first two NIT games, but the Cavaliers had managed to escape with the wins. On Tuesday night, that eventually caught up with them. 

Franklin made one of two free throws before Welch's three-pointer and then Jayden Gardner missed the front end of a one-and-one with a little over 10 seconds remaining. 

Kyle Lofton drove to the basket and multiple Virginia defenders rotated over to block the shot, but a foul was called on Franklin. Lofton went to the line and made both free throws to put the Bonnies up 52-51 with 5.3 seconds remaining. 

Kihei Clark received the inbounds pass and took it the length of the court. He tried to drive to the basket but his layup attempt was rejected out of bounds by Osun Osunniyi as time expired. 

It was far from Clark's finest performance in what could be his final game in a Cavalier uniform. The senior guard finished with just two points on 0/7 shooting from the floor and six assists. Jayden Gardner had 17 points and five rebounds and Reece Beekman had six points, six rebounds, and six assists before he fouled out. 

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Dominick Welch, Jaren Holmes, and Osun Osunniyi each had 10 points for the Bonnies, who advance to play in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. 

Virginia finishes the season with an overall record of 21-14. It was an up-and-down year for the Hoos, but they managed to win at least 20 games for the tenth time in the Tony Bennett era. 

Brighter things ahead. 

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