College Basketball

Belmont’s Craig Bradshaw scores 25, sinks five 3-pointers in loss to Virginia

Former Michigan State and NBA great Magic Johnson sat in the stands with Michigan State fans during Friday’s NCAA tournament game against Georgia at Time Warner Cable Arena. During halftime, he gladly posed for pictures.
Former Michigan State and NBA great Magic Johnson sat in the stands with Michigan State fans during Friday’s NCAA tournament game against Georgia at Time Warner Cable Arena. During halftime, he gladly posed for pictures. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The biggest character in the Charlotte games in the NCAA tournament has been eliminated, but he put on a show going out.

Belmont guard Craig Bradshaw posted 25 points, including five 3-pointers on nine attempts, in Belmont’s 79-67 loss to Virginia on Friday in the second round of the tournament.

With about five minutes left in the game, Bradshaw banked in a 3-pointer to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to three points. Bradshaw ran back down the court yelling to fans that he called bank on the shot.

“You guys think that bank shot was an accident, but honestly he does it all the time ,” Belmont 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, truthfully.”

Said Bradshaw: “We had a lot of open shots. My shot felt good. That's about it.”

The rest of Belmont’s team had three 3-pointers next to Bradshaw’s five. But the team cooled considerably in the second half, going 3-for-13 from deep in the second half.

“You just don't see a lot of teams that can spread the floor like that,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said, “that can shoot the ball and have the kind of guys that just keep coming at you, that can even bank 3s when they're going the way Bradshaw did.”

Gill shines: In front of family and friends, former Charlotte Christian standout Anthony Gill had one of the best performances of the day for the Cavaliers.

Gill had 16 points on 4-for-6 shooting and drained eight of his 11 free-throw attempts. The team’s leading rebounder, Gill only had three rebounds, but Virginia center Darion Atkins picked up the slack.

“I think that coach Bennett told us before the game we're going to call one of our plays to get the ball on the side and I think we really wanted to take advantage of that,” Gill said. “I think we had some opportunities where we could rebound on the offensive end, too, and we did a really good job of that.

“Darion, I think he had six offensive rebounds and that was big for us, that was huge. When everybody's rebounding like that on the offensive end I think we have a good chance.”

Observations

▪  Michigan State legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson showed up midway through the first quarter of the Spartans’ game against Georgia. He posed for pictures for all comers during halftime but wasn’t bothered by fans during the second half.

▪  Spartans guard Bryn Forbes regularly bent over, touched his toes and blew into his hands during the game. He did it both on defense and offense, and sometimes just before receiving a pass.

▪  All things considered, Belmont’s players and coach were in a good mood after their loss. The future appears bright for the young Bruins, who could be back in the NCAA tournament next season.

By the numbers

7-0 Michigan State coach Tom Izzo's record against current SEC teams in NCAA tournament play.

15 Points for Virginia’s Justin Anderson after going scoreless in the previous two games .

4 Made 3-pointers by Georgia in 14 attempts.

Quotes

▪  “This is when you wish you were a politician, don't you, so you could be politically correct? Hell, no, I can't figure it out myself.” – Izzo trying to pinpoint Matt Costello’s (1-for-8) shooting woes

▪  “I was in some significant pain. It was enough that it forced me to the bench to calm down. I started limping and coach took me out." – Georgia freshman Kenny Gaines, who has a sprained ankle

▪  “I think they did some things they (Cavaliers) haven't done all year long about switching ball screens...and Taylor (Barnette) either didn't tell me the truth, but he said they don't switch nothing. That's what you say when you're from Kentucky: They don't switch nothing. And Tennessee, I'm not throwing off on Kentucky.” – Belmont coach Rick Byrd on Barnette, a former Virginia player who is from Lexington, Ky.

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