ORLANDO, Fla. – The Virginia basketball team took down UNC Wilmington on Thursday, 76-71, to advance in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. The Hoos trailed by 15 points in the first half, but rallied to lead by halftime and eventually grabbed the victory.
The Cavaliers got contributions from several sources, including big games from its experienced guards. Senior London Perrantes poured in 24 points with 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal. Marial Shayok added 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 assist. Darius Thompson chipped in 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, 1 assist, and 1 steal too.
The fourth member of the seasoned guard club was Devon Hall. He too put together a solid effort in the win. Hall posted 6 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. He also came up with several toughness plays to keep Wilmington off the glass, to keep balls alive, to force a jumpball, or to make two clutch free throws in the final four minutes.
I caught up with Hall after the game for a Quick Take on the victory.
Virginia Basketball Quick Take
Kris: Five guards really early. Were you surprised how early that strategy shift came?
Devon Hall: Yeah. It’s not something we actually worked on, playing five guards. It helped for us just to be able to switch every single thing. We ran five guards late, late in the game [before] just to keep the ball in front but it did help us keep them out of the paint.
Kris: In order for that to work, the switching has to happen but you also had to rebound out of it. You did well with that (7 rebounds). Darius (4 rebounds) did well with it. Some other guys in the mix there. Can you talk about staying on the glass?
Devon Hall: The coaches were telling us to come back and rebound really hard because in the first half it was kind of funny the guy was getting his hand on a lot of balls on the offensive glass. So we just had to root him out of there. Everybody’s got to come back and rebound. All five guys.
Kris: You seemed, I don’t know if scrappy is the word or what, but you seemed particularly feisty about all of it. Did you feel like you just needed to bring that today? I mean you do that a lot, but today in particular?
Devon Hall: I play every game like it’s going to be my last. This is March Madness. You’ve got to bring that toughness to your game. I wasn’t hitting shots or wasn’t making too many plays on the offensive end so I just tried to do whatever I can to win.
Kris: Along the same line of thinking, Darius had 4 blocked shots.
Devon Hall: 4 blocks? Man.
Kris: Yeah. If you’re going to play small, you’re going to have to do other things too right?
Devon Hall: Yeah he really helped us out on the defensive end. I remember particularly one big play where we were trying to get going and he slid and got a blocked shot. … Him being able to rebound like that and block shots and make plays on the offensive end was really big for us. Really big.
Kris: Obviously Marial Shayok was huge. There were two or three different times where he either had a stop or a score when it got to one possession so he was clutch too.
Devon Hall: Absolutely. We’ve known that he has the ability to make plays on the offensive end. I’m so proud and happy to see him make those plays because we know he can do it.
Kris: In terms of a win for the program, you win another game in the NCAA Tournament. That’s seven overall for Coach Bennett here and that makes him second all time at Virginia. If you get upset here like some people were saying … pretty big to win?
Devon Hall: I think any win you get in this setting is huge. This is a big stage and you’re going to get everybody’s best shot. You never know exactly who you’re going to play. This is a great environment.