Braxton Key recorded 15 points and 7 rebounds, and the Virginia Cavaliers overcame a sluggish second half start to defeat the Navy Midshipmen, 65-56.
In the final game of what has been a historic calendar year 2019 for UVA, the Hoos were looking for an impressive performance to bounce back from last week’s 70-59 loss at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Virginia got off to a good start offensively, leading by as much as 10, and scoring a season-high 37 points in the first half. Kihei Clark recorded 7 of his career-high 13 assists in the first half and finished with a double-double.
UVA held a 37-29 lead at the half, but that 8-point lead quickly turned into a one-point deficit as Navy went on a 12-3 run to start the second half. Virginia struggled to crack Navy’s 3-2 zone and had a few sloppy turnovers in that stretch. Navy forward Evan Wieck accounted for 6 of those 12 points with consecutive field goals from the post on Mamadi Diakite.
Virginia righted the ship from that point on, double-teaming Wieck, who failed to score a field goal for the rest of the game. The Cavaliers took care of the ball after that point, turning the ball over just 8 times total, down from 19 turnovers in the loss versus South Carolina. Surprisingly, the Virginia offense got a big lift by running out in transition before Navy could get their defense set, including a highlight alley-oop dunk by Braxton Key from Kihei Clark.
The Cavaliers tied their season-high in three-pointers with eight, including two threes from Casey Morsell (10 points) and Tomas Woldetensae (9 points), respectively. Jay Huff gave the Hoos a big lift off the bench as well with 9 points and 4 blocks. Virginia shot 53% from the field and 42% from three-point range.
This certainly was not the offensive explosion or the blowout victory the Hoos have been looking for all season, but there were definitely some encouraging signs of improvement as Virginia heads into conference play in 2020. UVA will host Virginia Tech in the commonwealth clash on January 4th.
Article recap by Matt Newton