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Virginia survives early scare, beats Belmont at NCAA Tournament

Virginia's Justin Anderson reacts after a basket against

Virginia's Justin Anderson reacts after a basket against Belmont during the second half at the NCAA Tournament in the Round of 64 in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 20, 2015. Credit: AP / Gerald Herbert

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It was late in the second half, and Belmont's Craig Bradshaw was feeling it. He banked in a right-wing three-pointer and ran back upcourt screaming "I called that!"

Moments later, he swished a three-pointer from about the same spot to cut second-seeded Virginia's lead to two with 4:37 left.

"You guys think that bank shot was an accident, but he does that all the time in practice from right there," Bears coach Rick Byrd said. "I'm not going to make him say for sure, but I'm about 90 percent sure he meant to bank that."

That was a heady moment, but it also was as close as the 15th-seeded Bears (22-11) came to upsetting second-seeded Virginia (30-3), which turned up the defensive pressure and pulled away for a 79-67 victory in an NCAA Tournament second-round game on Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Bradshaw led the Bears with 25 points, including 5-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc, but it wasn't enough. The Cavaliers responded to Bradshaw's back-to-back three-pointers by forcing two turnovers and two missed three-pointers, fueling a 9-0 run that gave the ACC champions a 71-60 lead with 1:32 left.

Asked if he allowed himself to think Belmont could pull off the improbable upset, Bradshaw said, "I don't think you ever think you're going to win the game against those guys. I felt good about how I was shooting. We were running a good offense, and they just made some good stops at the end, made more winning plays at the end."

Malcolm Brogdon led a veteran Virginia team with 22 points, and the Cavaliers got 16 from Anthony Gill, 15 from Justin Anderson and 10 from Darion Atkins. Anderson played with his broken left pinkie taped to his ring finger in his third game back after surgery, but it was the first time he scored since the operation.

"Down the stretch, you're definitely concerned because that's a very dangerous team," Brogdon said of Belmont. "They hit quick shots and make a lot of threes. But we know we have to lock down on defense, and that's what we lean on every night. That's our foundation."

Virginia's win set up a third-round game against Michigan State that is a rematch of the Sweet 16 game the Spartans won last season in the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

"It's not about revenge," Brogdon insisted. "It's about making it to the next game. The hungrier team is going to win, so we're going to try to be hungry."


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