Mamadi Diane made 6 of 9 shots, including two 3’s.
Virginia may have been picked to finish last in the ACC, but the Cavaliers represented the conference well tonight. With dominant perimeter play and superior speed, the Wahoos whipped Northwestern, 72-57, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge at University Hall. UVa’s victory helped the ACC win the Challenge for the seventh straight year, this time by a 6-5 margin.
Sean Singletary scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half as Virginia bounced back from Sunday’s 30-point loss at Arizona and improved to 3-1 on the season. Freshman forward Mamadi Diane scored a career-high 18, while J.R. Reynolds delivered 13 points and five assists.
The Cavaliers committed just eight turnovers, outrebounded the Wildcats by 10 and made 18 of 21 free throws.
“We knew they were big guys, slow guys, so we knew we had to push the ball,” said Singletary, who sat out over nine minutes in the first half after picking up his second foul. In his absence, Virginia squandered a 19-12 lead and trailed 27-26 at the half.
Jason Cain had seven boards, all in the second half.
But with Singletary pushing the tempo, the Cavs scored 46 points in the second half – two fewer than they had in a 48-44 victory over Northwestern last year. The plodding Wildcats (3-3) had not given up more than 59 points in their first five games.
Singletary opened the second half with a 3-pointer and a 3-point play, kicking off a 14-2 run. He made three more 3-pointers in the half, giving him four, a career best. Diane, working inside and outside, missed only three shots in scoring his 18 points, nine in each half. Adrian Joseph had 10 points and six rebounds, while Jason Cain grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, four on the offensive end.
Vedran Vukusic scored 21 points for Northwestern, which missed its first 15 shots from 3-point range. The Wildcats finished 3 of 22 from long range and made 18 of 26 shots inside the arc.
“We’re not a very good 3-point shooting team, so why am I running things where we’re getting open 3’s?” said Northwestern coach Bill Carmody.
The Cavs weren’t complaining. They gave up just four offensive rebounds and geared up for their ACC opener at Georgia Tech on Sunday.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Reynolds said, “but it’s nice to be 3-1 right now.”