CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Reece Beekman hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, and the top-seed Virginia men’s basketball team defeated 8-seed Syracuse 72-69 in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals on Thursday.
The game-winning basket represented the only points scored by the freshman.
“It’s crazy. That was my first ever, like game winner -- walk-off game winner,” says Beekman. “So just hitting one of those for my team, it meant a lot. It was a whole lot of excitement, just a lot of energy that just came over me. And a lot of joy. "
Senior guard Sam Hauser says, “I think it could be a confidence booster for him. I mean, we all have confidence in him every time he’s open, we’re telling him to shoot. If they’re not going in, we’re still going to tell him to shoot if he’s open, because we have that much confidence in him.”
Beekman’s older brother, Bryce Beekman, passed away nearly one year ago.
Bryce Beekman was a redshirt senior on the Washington State football team, and died of “accidental, acute drug intoxication.”
Head coach Tony Bennett says, “So happy for Reece. He’s been through so much, and just overjoyed for him, of course the team. But there’s some special meaning for him, and his mom being here, and all that.”
“It meant a lot,” says Beekman. “She travels. She tries to be at every game I have. I know she works a lot, so just her being here meant a lot for me because she’s supported me through and through since the beginning. So having her here meant a lot. Just to see her there in person meant a lot.”
Sam Hauser led UVA with 21 points, while Jay Huff had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
UVA trailed by as many as 11 points in the 1st half, but the ‘Hoos defense held SU scoreless for the final 3:58 of the half, and the ‘Hoos were down 39-36 at the break.
The teams traded the lead in the 2nd half.
Virginia led by six-points with 2:09 left, but the Orange tied the game at 69-69 on two Buddy Boeheim free throws with 0:29 remaining.
Boeheim scored a game-high 31 points for SU.
Beekman’s game-winning shot came on a kick-out by Kihei Clark, who finished with a game-high six assists, to go along with 10 points.
Virginia will take on the winner of Georgia Tech in the ACC Semifinals on Friday at 6:30 PM.
North Carolina and Florida State will meet in the other semifinals, after the Tar Heels eliminated the 3-seed Hokies 81-73.