After an 18 day break due to COVID-19, there were questions surrounding whether the UVA Men’s basketball team would be able to return to form after this hiatus. The #16 Cavaliers (4-1) quickly put these concerns to rest, as they dominated the William & Mary Tribe (2-3) Tuesday afternoon at John Paul Jones Arena.
Third-Year guard Kihei Clark rejoined the starting lineup, after two games coming off the bench, and he quickly took advantage of this opportunity. Within the first five minutes of the game, Clark had 6 points as well as two assists. William & Mary was forced to call a timeout early on after UVA started the game on a 17-6 run. At the start of the matchup, the Cavalier offense scored with ease, getting right to the rim on each possession. Of these first 17 points, 14 came from inside the paint as the Hoos dominated in the paint early on.
Defensively, Tony Bennett’s team consistently forced William and Mary into bad shots late in the shot clock, earning two shot clock violations in the first half. Senior Luke Loewe, who was averaging 18 points coming into the game, finished with just five points on 20% shooting (2-10). During the first half, the Tribe went seven straight minutes without a point, and Junior Guard Trey Murphy III took advantage with seven straight points as a part of the 13-0 UVA run. Murphy finished with a team-high 15 points on 6-9 shooting. Eventually, Yuri Covington drained a three for the Tribe to end the scoring run and make it 26-9. UVA continued this stingy defense for the rest of the game, holding the Tribe to just 29% (14-50) from the field and 17% (3-17) from behind the arc.
On the other hand, UVA shot 52% from the field and had 12 different players score, including all 9 that played in the first half. Aside from Murphy, standouts for the Hoos included Kadin Shedrick with 10 points, and Sam Hauser and Jay Huff with 9 points each. The Hoos played a selfless game against the tribe, amassing 14 assists throughout the game.
In the second half, Yuri Covington tried to revitalize the Tribe, scoring the first five points for William & Mary. The freshman had a solid game, finishing with a team-high 12 points. After a miscommunication on defense and a turnover on offense a few minutes into the second half, Sam Hauser initiated a quick huddle to get his team to settle down and make sure they restored the momentum. The Hoos responded to their teammate and forced four straight turnovers to extend their lead to 50-25.
From there, the Hoos cruised to a victory and Tony Bennett was able to get playing time for much of UVA’s roster, with 15 players getting time on the court. UVA looked like the dominant defensive team that Cavalier fans are used to, holding William & Mary to just 40 points, while nine three-pointers on the offensive end are encouraging going forward.
The Tribe will look to rebound from this loss when they face the Hofstra Pride on January 2nd. The defending-champion Cavaliers will hope to ride this momentum to a victory over the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday in a huge matchup.