UVA Clinches 3rd Regular Season Title in 4 Years with Win Over Louisville

After Notre Dame defeated Florida State earlier in the day, the #21 Virginia Cavaliers (17-6, 13-4 ACC) controlled their own destiny. The Cavaliers clinched the regular season ACC championship with a 68-58 win over Louisville (13-5, 8-4 ACC). 

Early in the game, Jay Huff, Trey Murphy III, and Sam Hauser were the main scorers for the Hoos, and 12 of the first 16 points came from inside the paint. Louisville’s Samuell Williamson was the leading offensive force for his team, and finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds. UVA led 20-13 at the second TV timeout with seven minutes remaining in the first half. 

Reece Beekman had a nice assist to Trey Murphy III on a backdoor cut and Sam Hauser continuously drained mid-range jumpers, while Louisville had a three minute scoring drought to end the second half. At halftime, the Hoos led 28-21. Two ACC player of the year candidates, Carlik Jones for the Cardinals and Sam Hauser for the Cavaliers, had very different first halves. Jones had 0 points on 0-8 shooting while Hauser scored 10 on 5-8 shooting. 

In the second half, David Johnson opened the scoring with a layup for Louisville. He had a team high 14 points in the contest. Then, the Sam Hauser show began. Hauser made a smooth midrange jumper, drained the first three for the Hoos, and hit an impressive fadeaway. 

Whenever Sam Hauser scored, someone on the Louisville team responded. David Johnson drilled a three of his own following Hauser’s make, and then Jae’Lyn Withers grabbed an offensive rebound and executed a spin move and dunk for a three point play. Next, Dre Davisto hit a three which sent the Louisville crowd into a frenzy and brought the score to 41-38. Hauser reached a season high 24 points on a deep three with 13 minutes remaining, and his second half surge was clutch when his team was competing for a championship. 

However, the most exciting part of the game was how the rest of the Virginia team stepped up down the stretch. Both Jay Huff and Sam Hauser spent the majority of the last ten minutes of the game on the bench. It was meant to be a short breather for the seniors, but the Hoos pulled away and Tony Bennett stuck with the guys he had on the floor. Tomas Woldetensae made three free throws, Trey Murphy III corralled an offensive rebound and hit the second chance shot, and Justin McKoy had a nice sequence with a layup, steal, and tip in. 

All of a sudden, the Hoos had their largest lead of the game as Reece Beekman hit two free throws to pull ahead 62-49. The Cardinals would not go away easily, as David Johnson dunked the basketball with five minutes remaining, and Louisville started a full-court press soon after. 

Down the stretch, both teams missed baskets as Louisville tried to climb back in the game. Reece Beekman finished a tough shot with two minutes remaining, and then Kihei Clark broke the press and found Trey Murphy III for an easy dunk to seal the game. When the buzzer sounded, UVA was victorious 68-58 and celebrated their third ACC regular season championship in four years. 

During UVA’s three game losing streak, the lack of balanced scoring was an issue as Sam Hauser and Jay Huff had to carry the load. Although Hauser was the team leader with 24 points, Trey Murphy III scored 17 and several other players made great decisions throughout the game. Seeing the confidence and chemistry of the guys on the court was an encouraging sign going into tournament play. Additionally, the Hoos got the job done despite only making 3 three pointers, a significantly lower number than usual.

UVA will be the #1 seed in the ACC tournament and will play at noon on March 11th


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