Virginia's storybook season turned sour in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Friday night as Michigan State beat the Wahoos 61-59 at Madison Square Garden.
The Cavaliers finish the season 30-7 with an ACC Regular Season and Tournament Championship to its credit.
"What a hard fought game," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. "We maybe could've laid down, but they didn't. I told them what was remarkable about their season was sometimes you can get hot and have a five or six game stretch, but these guys did it from the Florida State game to win a regular season conference championship and then they carried it through to the conference championship, got here. They don't have to hang their heads for how they played. This to me is what is right about college basketball."
Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon both had 17 points for Virginia.
Adreian Payne's 3-pointer with 1:29 left gave the Spartans the lead for good at 54-51. After a miss by Brogdon, the 6-foot-10 Payne found Brandon Dawson with a line drive lob pass for a dunk with 52 seconds to go.
Harris hit a 3 with 39 seconds left to bring the Cavaliers within 56-54.
Payne then made two free throws with 32 seconds left for a 58-54 lead.
Brogdon hit a 3 with 1.1 seconds left to bring Virginia within 60-59. Gary Harris then made one of two free throws to make it 61-59 and Justin Anderson's last-chance heave fell well short.
The Cavaliers were held to just 35.1 percent shooting (20 of 57), well off the 45.7 percent they shot during the season and nowhere near the 54.3 percent they shot in the first two NCAA tournament games.
Michigan State started the second half by missing seven of its first eight shots and committing five turnovers. Virginia took advantage to turn a 31-27 halftime deficit into a 38-34 lead. The Spartans followed with a 13-2 run to go up 49-42 with 6:10 to go.
Virginia answered with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 51 with 1:51 left and then Payne accounted for Michigan State's next seven points.
The game was the last for Virginia seniors Harris and Akil Mitchell. The Cavaliers return a strong nucleus next year including Brogdon, Anderson, London Perrantes, Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey, among others and should be poised to make a return to the NCAA Tournament.
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