Virginia Wins Big in Home Opener


photo courtesy Matt Riley

The number 8 Virginia Cavaliers won their 20th home opener with a 72-32 win against St. Francis Brooklyn on Tuesday night in the John Paul Jones Arena. Redshirt Junior Austin Nichols had 11 points for his debut as a Wahoo, helping the team create their 40-point lead.

“I was a little nervous at first, and then I got that first bucket assisted by Jarred [Reuter],” Nichols commented after the game. “After that it was a little less nerve-wracking.”

The Cavaliers were off to a great start with four of their five starters putting points on the scoreboard for an 8-4 lead in the first four minutes

They held the Terriers without a field goal for the last 12:49 in the first half and created a 35-11 point lead at the end of the half. Glen Sanabria led St. Francis in scoring with 10 points and the Terriers went 5-for-26 from three.

“What I like is how we’re scrambling and we’re trying to contest shots,” Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett said of his defense after the game. “I think this team understands that we’re going to have to be so good defensively and that’s going to be our ticket. We say that’s mandatory for us. We know for us to be our best we have to be so good and play in a way that’s hard for us to play…we know what we have to do, but will we do it.”

While Junior Marial Shayok and Freshman Jarred Reuter scored helpful points during the first half, the second half was dominated by Nichols and Redshirt Freshman Mamadi Diakite, who also had his season debut on Tuesday, both scoring a combined 15 points. Diakite also finished with four rebounds and a block for 3-for-3 shooting from the field, to help Virginia get their victory.

However, despite a great effort by new faces on the court, this was the first time since 2011 that the Cavaliers didn’t make a three-point shot. Coach Bennett commented on the need to be more balanced, which will help them in the future.

Towards the end of the game, Sophomore Justice Bartley scored his first points for the Cavaliers and Sophomore Trevon Gross notched an assist and a rebound to clinch the win for the ‘Hoos.

Virginia will host the Yale Bulldogs on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the John Paul Jones Arena.



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