GREENSBORO, N.C. — Guard Joe Harris scored 12 points and sixth-ranked Virginia defeated Pittsburgh, 51-48, on Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum, earning a spot in the ACC tournament championship game for the first time in 20 years.
Virginia guard Justin Anderson blocked guard James Robinson’s 3-point shot in the final second to preserve the outcome.
Top-seeded Virginia (27-6) meets the Duke-North Carolina State winner in Sunday’s final.
Guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Anthony Gill each had 10 points for Virginia.
Forward Talib Zanna and guard Lamar Patterson each scored 15 points for fifth-seeded Pittsburgh (25-9), which won its first two tournament games in its first year as an ACC member.
Pittsburgh guard Josh Newkirk, who scored on a drive to trim the deficit to 47-44, misfired on a 3-point shot with a chance to tie the game at the 1:47 mark.
Brogdon cut into the lane for a layup before Patterson answered for Pittsburgh with 51 seconds to go.
Robinson’s steal and basket made it a 49-48 score with 10 seconds remaining and the Panthers used their last timeout.
Gill made both ends of a 1-and-1 with 8.5 seconds left before Pittsburgh’s last possession.
Pittsburgh was limited to 36.7-percent shooting from the field.
Patterson hit two 3-point baskets in the first five minutes of the second half, preventing Virginia, which scored on five consecutive possessions, from pulling away.
But the Cavaliers finally stretched their lead, with Harris making a drive from the wing for a 43-36 edge.
Pittsburgh missed eight shots in a row from the field during a stretch of nearly six minutes in which the Panthers made only two free throws.
Yet when Patterson’s layup counted because of goaltending, the Panthers were within 45-42 with slightly more than four minutes left.
It was a struggle for both offenses for much of the game.
Harris missed his first four 3-point shots, then bagged a long ball, courtesy of a big bounce off the rim, for a 26-24 halftime lead. That was the only scoring in the last 2:20 of the half.
Zanna scored half of Pittsburgh’s first-half points.
After Virginia scored the game’s first four points, there was never more than a three-point margin, 19-16 and 24-21 in Pittsburgh’s favor, for the rest of the first half.
Pittsburgh never trailed in either of its previous tournament games in defeating Wake Forest and North Carolina.
Looking to Sunday’s final, Virginia won at N.C. State and lost at Duke during the regular season.
NOTES: With Virginia in the tournament semifinals for the first time since 1995, it ended the longest drought in the league for a team without a semifinal date. … Virginia G Malcolm Brogdon, who scored in double figures against every ACC team during the regular season, was back at the level with 10 points against Pittsburgh after tallying only six a day earlier in the quarterfinals against Florida State. … Pittsburgh lost regular-season home games to the other three tournament semifinalists.
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