Colorado State struts past poor-shooting Virginia

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 20 Mar, 2024 at 04:46 AM

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DAYTON, Ohio - Joel Scott finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Nique Clifford added 17 points as the sharp-shooting Colorado State Rams routed the misfiring Virginia Cavaliers 67-42 on Tuesday night in a First Four matchup of the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.

Colorado State (25-10), which improved to 5-12 in NCAA Tournament games, earned the No. 10 seed and advances to play No. 7 seed Texas on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C.

The Rams were an impressive 26 of 47 to finish at 55.3 percent from the field. By contrast, Virginia suffered one of the worst nights in its storied NCAA Tournament history, shooting just 25 percent and missing 19 straight shots at one point.

Colorado State coach Niko Medved said he "never would have imagined" getting a 25-point win.

"I knew our guys were ready to compete. They just came out with such an unbelievable effort tonight. They just kept grinding out possessions. I thought as the game went on in the second half, we just executed better, break up our defense and did just a great job," Medved said.

The 42 points are the second fewest for Virginia in an NCAA Tournament game. The previous low came in 2017, when the Cavaliers lost 65-39 to Florida in a second-round game.

On Tuesday, Reece Beekman led Virginia (23-11) with 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting and was the only Cavalier in double figures. Jordan Minor had seven points and Isaac McKneely finished with six as Virginia lost its first game of the tournament for the second straight year and for its third straight appearance since winning the NCAA title in 2019.

"Right now, it probably sounds or feels like hollow praise, but knowing how Reece led us and to get to this point, to win 23 games and where they finished in the ACC is a credit to them," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.

"I think you saw tonight when teams really make it hard on Isaac and Reece, it's tough. We've had a number of games where we've gotten beat handily. And credit goes to Colorado State. They're a hard-nosed, tough defensive team. They run their stuff well. Niko does a great job, and their physicality bothered us," Bennett said.

McKneely drained a 3 with 10:30 left in the first half to bring Virginia within two, 14-12. It was Virginia's last basket of the first half.

Virginia's last points of the half came 70 seconds later when Beekman converted a pair of free throws to cut Colorado State's lead to 18-14.

The Rams finished the half on a 9-0 run to take a 27-14 lead.

Virginia made just 5 of 29 shots in the first 20 minutes, missing its final 15. Things didn't improve over the first three minutes of the second half as the Cavaliers were off the mark on their first four attempts, helping the Rams build their lead to 35-14.

Scott had 10 of his 23 points in the first half for the Rams, who dominated the Cavaliers 18-4 in the paint.

Virginia's drought finally ended when Beekman's floater in the lane hit the rim and fell in with 16:37 left.

Jacob Groves drilled a corner 3-pointer to bring Virginia within 44-29 with 10:02 left, but the Cavaliers could get no closer.

--By Mike Petraglia, Field Level Media