CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (Ticker) -- An improbable rally may have saved Virginia's season.
Roger Mason scored 22 points and Adam Hall added 21 as the Cavaliers rallied from a late 15-point deficit for a thrilling 87-84 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over No. 3 Duke.
"I'm very proud of our team," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. "I'm very happy for the players. They've caught a lot of abuse." The loss by the Blue Devils gave Maryland (14-1 ACC) its first regular-season ACC title since 1980. Duke (25-3, 12-3) had won the last five.
Virginia (17-9, 7-8) had dropped seven of nine games and entered with its NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy. Things did not look favorable when Mike Dunleavy's basket gave Duke (25-3, 12-3) a 76-61 lead with just over eight minutes left.
But the Blue Devils went cold and the Cavaliers gradually chipped away, getting within 77-71 on a basket by freshman Keith Jenifer with 5:20 remaining. Hall had a 3-pointer and a dunk to pull within one point with 3:18 left.
Virginia had a couple of empty possessions before Jenifer made a runner for its first lead of the game with 73 seconds left.
Mason made two free throws 23 seconds later and Hall added a pair that capped a 21-1 run for an 82-77 lead with 34 seconds left.
Jason Williams converted a three-point play with 22 seconds left to snap a drought of 7 1/2 minutes without a basket as Duke got within 84-82. Hall made 1-of-2 at the line and Williams was fouled while converting a follow shot with 12 seconds remaining.
But Williams, who was 0-of-6 at the line in a loss at Florida State on January 6, missed the potential tying free throw, and Mason made two from the line for an 87-84 lead with six seconds to go.
Williams turned it over and Mason missed two free throws before Duke failed to get a clean shot off on its last possession.
"I think we got a little frustrated," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Mike had some open looks that he was a bit short on." Dunleavy missed three shots in the final two minutes and also committed a huge turnover. He managed just 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Williams was worse with 14 on 4-of-13 shooting and eight turnovers.
Carlos Boozer scored a career-high 33 points on 12-of-13 shooting to go with 10 rebounds but did not score in the final 8:46. Virginia defended him with Travis Watson, who had four fouls at halftime but did not foul out until just under three minutes were left.
"We were trying to front him at the end," Gillen said. "Try to keep it away from him. He was great. He is certainly an NBA player." "It would have been nice to let him get the ball," Krzyzewski said.
"But I thought they played him tougher, too." Duke was in control for most of the first half and was ahead 42-30 when Gillen was whistled for a technical foul with just over two minutes left. After Boozer drained the two free throws, the Cavs closed the half by scoring eight straight points to pull within six.
"I was fighting for our players," Gillen said. "I thought things were going inappropriately, so we tried to be appropriate. I was upset.
Sometimes you have to do that." Hall made 7-of-15 shots and Chris Williams scored 14 points in their final home games for Virginia, barring an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. Watson had 12 points and Jenifer added 10 as the Cavs placed all five starters in double figures.
Virginia has won the last two home meetings with Duke, including a 91-89 victory last season on Hall's basket with less than a second left. The Blue Devils have won 13 of the last 15 meetings.