On Monday night at John Paul Jones Arena, the #21 Virginia Cavaliers (16-6,12-4 ACC) hosted Senior night, celebrating players Jay Huff, Sam Hauser, Thomas Woldetensae, and Austin Katstra, as well as managers Carter Furr and Matt Palumbo. The Wahoos would make their seniors proud, going on to defeat the Hurricanes by a final score of 62-51.
After losing their last three games, Virginia aimed to get back on track against Miami. The ‘Canes have been without 5 of their 11 scholarship players for the last three games, and all are out for the rest of the season, giving UVA the chance to capitalize.
The Hoos had a slow start with defensive mistakes keeping Miami close for the majority of the first half. Around the midpoint of the first half, Justin McKoy scored 6 points on three consecutive trips to the basket. Francisco Caffaro’s aggressive defense and boxing out under the basket to grab 3 rebounds was also crucial during this stretch.
At the end of the first half, UVA led Miami 41-30 with Sam Hauser knocking down two threes and Trey Murphy III driving to the basket to extend the lead. UVA held Miami to a 28.6% 3-point shooting average compared to the Cavaliers own 55.6%. The Cavalier offense was aided by 12 points coming off the bench in the first half.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the second half. Jay Huff knocked down his first 3-pointer of the night, and Hauser shot a pull up jumper to extend the lead. Jay Huff’s strong defense repeatedly prevented the Miami offense from scoring throughout the game. With 1:33 left to go in the second half, Sam Hauser hit a 3-point shot, in an otherwise poor 3-point half, to go up 11 points.
Neither team shot particularly well in the second half, but the Hoos’ run to go up 11 points following the Hauser 3-point shot was enough to hold off Miami. In the last 3 Virginia losses, they allowed their opponents to shoot an average of 46% from the 3-point line. Comparatively, UVA held Miami to only shooting 26.7% from 3-point range.
Miami’s leading scorer Isaiah Wong came into the contest averaging 17.8 points per game, yet he was held in check by Tony Bennett’s defense, scoring just 10 points on the night.
Sam Hauser celebrated Senior Night as the leading scorer with 18 points coupled with 6 rebounds. Jay Huff had a quieter night with 7 points, yet impressed on the defensive end, boasting 7 rebounds and 1 block. The bench was incredibly influential in the win with 20 points, led by Justin McKoy with 8 points. The ability for the Cavaliers to distribute scoring to the bench helped to relieve the starting five, who struggled scoring at times.
UVA is currently second in the ACC at 12-4, only behind Florida State who is 10-3. While the Cavaliers would need some unlikely assistance from Boston College and Notre Dame, the Cavaliers still have a shot at the regular season ACC crown. Regardless, the Cavaliers aim to end the regular season with a win at Louisville on Saturday at 4 P.M.