J.P. Pegues made a game-winning three-pointer with 2.4 seconds to play as Furman pulled off the first upset of the 2023 NCAA Tournament with a 68-67 victory over Virginia in Orlando.

The win, the Paladins' first in the Tournament since defeating South Carolina in 1974, propelled the Southern Conference champions into the second round, where they will face fifth seed San Diego State on Saturday.

"What an unbelievable college basketball game", said head coach Bob Richey. "All year we've been saying this team just knows how to win.

"We knew we were going to have a great opponent in Virginia. We knew there were going to be some advantages in terms of their size, in terms of their physicality, the way they rebound, the way they defend.

"It's an unbelievable moment and give all glory to God for allowing me to be able to lead it, but this is a day these players just found a way."

Jalen Slawson had a double-double to lead 13th-seed Furman (28-6) as the fifth-year senior scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Marcus Foster added 14, including three second-half three-pointers.

Fourth seed Virginia (25-8), who lost in the ACC Tournament final, was paced by Kadin Shedrick, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds. Reece Beekman and Isaac McKneely also finished in double figures with 14 and 12, respectively.

How Furman pulled off upset over Virginia

The Cavaliers started fast, scoring the first eight points of the game and led 17-7 before Furman went on a 15-6 run to cut it toa one-point game.

Virginia responded with an 8-0 run of their own to stretch the lead back out to nine at 31-22 with 2:34 to go in the first half. They led 32-27 at the half thanks to a 22-14 rebounding advantage as well as outscoring the Paladins 16-8 in the paint.

It looked like the 2019 national champions were going to run away with the contest, building a 42-30 edge five minutes into the second half and McKneely buried consecutive threes to stretch it back to a 12-point bulge at 50-38.

That marked the turning point in the game as Richey switched to a zone defense, disrupting Virginia's flow on offense and an 8-0 run, which included threes by Foster and leading scorer Mike Bothwell, cut it to a four-point game.

Slawson then converted on a three-point play to cut it to 54-51 with 6:10 to go and less than a minute later, another three-point play by the Southern Conference Player of the Year gave Furman their first lead of the game at 57-54.

Jalen Slawson dunks over Virginia defenders during the Paladins[ first-round NCAA Tournament win/Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Jalen Slawson dunks over Virginia defenders during the Paladins[ first-round NCAA Tournament win/Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Holding a 63-60 advantage with 2:30 remaining, Richey switched back to a man-to-man defense and the Cavaliers went on a 7-0 run, but it could have been an even bigger lead as McKneely missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Trailing 67-63 with just 12 seconds left, Garrett Hien was fouled and he made both free throws to cut it to a two-point game. The Paladins trapped the inbounds pass and Hien intercepted Kihei Clark's baseball pass near midcourt.

He passed to Pegues on the right wing and he buried the game-winning three, his only triple of the game to put Furman in front 68-67. Following a timeout, Beekman had one last chance, but his heave from long-range bounced off the back iron.

Furman celebrates after upsetting Virginia/Photo: Lance King/Getty Images
Furman celebrates after upsetting Virginia/Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

 

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