(CNN) March Madness has built a reputation for delivering incredible shocks, and fans of college hoops didn’t have to wait long for surprises at this year’s men’s tournament.
On Thursday, the fourth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers faced the 13th-ranked Furman Paladins in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship, making their first appearance in March Madness in 43 years.
Many expected a walkthrough for the Cavs and the Paladins trailed for most of the encounter – Virginia suddenly extended their lead to 12 points.
The Virginia Cavaliers added their name to the list of favorites to lose in March Madness.
The Paladins fought their way back into contention thanks to good work on the defensive end to make the clutch uncomfortable for Virginia.
With Virginia two ahead and less than 10 seconds on the clock, the Paladins forced a steal down the middle, Garrett Hein grabbing a lazy pass and propelling forward.
Hein found JP Pegues, who appeared to be the coolest man on the court as he squared his shoulders and proceeded to bury the game-winning three to give the Paladins a point clear.
With 2.4 seconds on the clock, Virginia had to shoot but missed a desperate throw on the buzzer.
The Paladins stormed the court before the team danced and splashed water in the dressing room.
Pegues was the coolest man in the stadium as he deflated clutch three as time ran out on the clock.
After the win, Pegues gave a glimpse of how he was feeling ahead of his crucial clutch shot.
“When I saw it go into Garrett Hein’s hands, I thought, ‘I want the ball. I feel like these are moments that I’ve created my entire life and I feel like I was made for it ‘ Pegues said.
“As soon as I got the ball and saw my shot attempt, I knew at that point the only thing I could do was get up and shoot it, and I was adamant that he was going to go in, and he did.”
Furman head coach Bob Richey added, “What a day to be a Paladin.”
Cavs coach Tony Bennett described his team’s loss as “tough.”
“You know, this game is – interesting might be the word I would use. You feel like we’ve got it, we’ve got it, and then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it ends up changing.”
Furman plays the No. 5 from San Diego State on Saturday.