The No. 12 Virginia men’s basketball team continued its winning ways on the road Tuesday night, outscoring No. 14 Notre Dame 17-5 in the final six minutes of regulation to pull away and secure a 71-54 win over the Irish in South Bend.
The victory improves UVA’s overall 2016/2017 record to 16-3, its ACC record to 6-2 (1/2 game behind first place Florida State and UNC), and its record in true road games to 6-1. The Cavaliers now own a 5-0 record against Notre Dame since the Irish joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Virginia’s upperclassmen led a complete effort on both ends of the court. Despite playing “a little under the weather” according to head coach Tony Bennett, senior point guard London Perrantes led all scorers with 22 points (5-8 3-pointers), including 12 in the second half. Junior forward Isaiah Wilkins scored 13 points, including 9-of-10 free throws, all of which came in the second half. Redshirt junior guard Devon Hall also reached double figures with 11 points while junior guard Marial Shayok added 10 points.
Notre Dame shot 41.7% from the field — 3-of-18 from 3 — against UVA’s Pack Line defense. Moreover, Wilkins and Hall had nine rebounds apiece as the Cavaliers dominated the boards, 38-22. Virginia corralled 10 offensive rebounds and scored 15 second chance points.
“Everybody stepped up,” Bennett told Virginia Sports Radio postgame.
A back-and-forth first half ended with Virginia leading, 27-26. The Wahoos jumped out to a 6-point lead early in the second, but Notre Dame battled back and trailed by one with the ball at the 14:27 mark. The home team would get no closer as UVA capitalized on Notre Dame point guard Matt Farrell’s turnover on that possession with two free throws from Wilkins.
Notre Dame remained within striking distance at 54-49 with 6:52 remaining before clutch play from an unexpected source helped the Cavaliers truly take control. True freshman point guard Ty Jerome, who after tonight has seen double-digit minutes in only seven of UVA’s 19 games, scored the Cavaliers’ next five points before assisting on a Perrantes 3 that put the visitors up 62-51 with 3:59 remaining.
“The biggest moment was when Ty came in and made some plays,” Perrantes said in this AP report. “I think Ty was definitely the game changer for us.”
The 6’5” Jerome finished with a career-high 8 points on 3-4 shooting (2-3 from 3), 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 14 minutes of play.
“Just trying to stay ready all season,” Jerome told UVA radio analyst Ted Jeffries in a postgame interview. “You never know when your number is going to be called.”
“Obviously the shots he hit were big, but I think he made some really nice passes,” Bennett said of Jerome. “He just steadies you with the ball. He created that shot for London to hit that big 3 against the zone (mentioned above). He just pulled ’em in and put it in the right place. Ty’s been improving defensively. Thought he did a solid job defensively, and he has terrific feel. I was really pleased. He hasn’t had that kind of performance, so when you see that, that was great. There were many storylines, but really happy for Ty. Different guys at different times has been a key for us in our victories.”
For Notre Dame, Bonzi Colson, Steve Vasturia, and Farrell combined for 42 of the team’s 54 points. Senior V.J. Beachem, who scored 30 points in a win over Syracuse last Saturday, was held to just 3 points on 1-of-10 shooting.
“They imposed their will on us,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said of Virginia. “I thought some of the looks we had in the first half from the 3-point line were good ones. You’ve gotta make those if you’re going to hang around and you’ve gotta make some shots over the top, and we couldn’t. Love that we gave it a little run. We tried to chase it, but they seemed to make a big play, a big 3. We missed some free throws that maybe could have helped us, too.”
“[The Cavaliers are] just a heck of a group and a heck of a system, and it kind of wore on us,” Brey continued.
Can the Hoos continue their winning ways on the road? Virginia’s biggest road test awaits this Sunday, when the Hoos travel to current No. 1 and defending National Champion Villanova. The Wildcats, who lost to Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena last season, will be coming off a 2-point loss at Marquette.
“We’ll go in there, try to battle, and see where we stand,” Bennett said.