Jayden Gardner scored 17 points and Kihei Clark racked up 15 points as Virginia fended off Louisville for a 51-50 victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament’s second round Wednesday night in New York.
Gardner made two free throws with 4.2 seconds left for a 51-47 lead before Louisville’s El Ellis drained a shot from near midcourt with 0.1 to play.
Sixth-seeded Virginia (19-12) meets #25 North Carolina (23-8), the third seed for the tournament, in Thursday night’s last quarterfinal. The Cavaliers probably need at least another victory to seriously enter the conversation for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Louisville went 2-10 since Mike Pegues became the interim coach, replacing Chris Mack in late January following a road loss to Virginia.
Malik Williams scored 11 points to go with 13 rebounds, Samuell Williamson posted nine points and Noah Locke had eight points for the #11 seed Cardinals (13-19), who won a night earlier against Georgia Tech in the first round.
Virginia provided a tougher defense. Louisville made just 35.7 percent of its shots, including 5-for-22 on 3-point attempts.
Gardner was 7-for-12 from the field and Clark shot 7-for-14, while the rest of the Cavaliers were a combined 7-for-24 from the floor.
Gardner put Virginia up 45-42 with a basket in the lane with three minutes left. Locke’s 3-pointer for Louisville tied the score before Gardner’s next basket with 1:28 left.
Another defensive stop for Virginia came before Reece Beekman’s basket with 40 seconds remaining.
Louisville never trailed in the first half, but led just 24-20 at the break. This came despite Virginia going 2-for-18 from the field on its first 20 shots across the first 11 minutes.
Virginia won both regular-season meetings with Louisville, including Saturday’s 71-61 road victory.