January 27, 2016 at 3:17 AM
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Here’s some idea of what it took Tuesday night to bring an end to Virginia’s road frustrations: 18 points in the final 76 seconds, three three-pointers in the final 14 seconds, three missed Wake Forest free throws in the final 11 seconds — and one buzzer-beating, banked-in three-pointer from Darius Thompson as time expired to lift Virginia to a 72-71 stunner at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Sophomore Devon Hall found Thompson beyond the arc in the game’s frantic final moments and the sophomore guard — who hadn’t taken a shot all night — rose and fired, the ball kissing off a backboard framed in red with the clock expiring. Replays confirmed the shot was good as the shocked Demon Deacons — and equally shocked crowd — looked on.
“I threw it up. I didn’t even see it go in,” Thompson said. “I fell on the ground and happened to look over and see all my teammates running at me, jumping up and down. I thought, ‘I guess I made the shot.’ ”
For all but the chaotic final sequence, it appeared the road would continue to be unkind to the No. 11 Cavaliers (16-4, 5-3 ACC). Anthony Gill had fouled out with 17 points, and Malcolm Brogdon’s 28 points seemed to have gone for naught.
Devin Thomas’s free throw with 1 minute 23 seconds remaining put the Deacons up 64-54 before Brogdon sparked the comeback, hitting a jumper and two three-pointers down the stretch. The Deacons went 7 for 12 from the line in the final minute, and the Cavaliers took advantage of the late misses. After the Cavaliers prodded each other in the huddle with choruses of “let’s keep trying,” and “you never know,” junior guard London Perrantes dished out three assists in the final minute, including one for a dunk from Gill and one for a three-pointer from Marial Shayok, to help get the Cavaliers within two with four seconds left after Bryant Crawford made 1 of 2 free throws for Wake Forest to set up the final possession.
The comeback even took Virginia Coach Tony Bennett by surprise.
“Deep down inside, if I’m going to be honest, you’re like, ‘This isn’t happening,’” Bennett said. “That was definitely one for the memory.”
The Cavaliers finished shooting 48.2 percent from the floor after starting slow again on the road, finishing the first half with 40.7 percent shooting. Brogdon and Perrantes combined to shoot 0 for 5 from behind the arc before intermission.
Brogdon believes the win could mark a turning point for Virginia’s road play. After losses at Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State, the Cavaliers avoided their first four-game road losing streak since 2012-13.
“It can definitely be momentum,” Brogdon said. “It just shows if we keep working, keep pushing, even if we don’t get off to the start we want to, we can win games.
The Cavaliers play their third game of the week Saturday at Louisville, and the rest of their road slate includes Miami, Duke, Pittsburgh and Clemson.
Crawford, a Gonzaga High alum, did most of the damage for Wake Forest on Tuesday night. Crawford, Dinos Mitoglou and Cornelius Hudson combined for nine points during one stretch to help Wake Forest extend its lead to eight with 12 minutes to play. Then Crawford, a Silver Spring native, scored eight more points, including two consecutive three-pointers, to put the Demon Deacons up by 14 with about eight minutes to play.
Crawford shot 8 of 10 from the field for 22 points, and Wake Forest (10-10, 1-7) made 6 of 9 from beyond the arc in the second half after making no threes in the first half. The Demon Deacons shot 53.5 percent from the floor.
“We didn’t play very well . . . we’ll take the win,” Bennett said. “The quality wasn’t there as we needed it, but it did get the monkey off our backs as far as a road win in the conference.
“They were hungry to win, and they played that way. They played with urgency and played well. Again, we’re fortunate.”