Cavs Ground No. 11 Eagles

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UVa junior J.R. Reynolds poured in 28 points in the victory over Boston College.

Virginia came into University Hall on Tuesday night following a disappointing loss at Florida State. The Cavaliers shot just 39.3 percent in that setback. Boston College entered the building as winners of 5 straight and 10 of its last 11. The Eagles had shot less than 40 percent just once in those contests.

Thanks to a strong shooting night from J.R. Reynolds and the Cavs’ supporting cast, the two teams reversed roles in Tuesday night’s ACC showdown. Reynolds poured in 28 points and the Hoos shot 52.1 percent as they prevailed 72-58 over No. 11 Boston College, who had a cold-shooting night of 35.2 percent.

The Eagles only had been forced into one worse shooting night all season – when they lost 78-60 against N.C. State while shooting only 32.3 percent. BC coach Al Skinner was impressed with the Cavalier defense.

“I just think Virginia wanted it much more than we did. We did not at all meet their energy. I thought the game was physical and we didn’t respond to that. They definitely showed that it was important to them and I don’t think we responded to it very well,” Skinner said. “I was impressed by their defense. Offensively, they scored the number of points they were going to score. It wasn’t like they had a huge night in scoring 90 points … 70 points is not a lot of points. It’s more what they did on the defensive end that I thought was the difference in the ball game.”

Virginia coach Dave Leitao believed his team’s effort led to the victory.

“We beat a very, very good team today who not only are they very good, but they were hot. And I thought we beat them at the things they do very well,” Leitao said. “They’re mentally and physically scrappy and I thought we out-scrapped them to loose balls and 50-50 balls, especially setting the tone early.”

Reynolds helped boost the energy with an early shooting display that never truly cooled off. He outscored Boston College 16-13 at one point in the first half and finished with 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting (4 of 7 on 3-pointers). Reynolds also had 3 assists and one dunk – just the second of his career.

“Everything felt good once it left my hand,” Reynolds said. “In the second half, I got a little winded and [missed] some unforced shots, but then I settled down, got my second wind, and took it from there.”

UVa’s Mamadi Diane knocked down 3 of 4 3-pointers and added 5 rebounds as well.

But the junior shooting guard was not the only one to get it going offensively. Sean Singletary scored 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting and added 5 assists and 2 steals. Adrian Joseph made 3 of 6 shots (3 of 5 3-pointers) to score 9 points, while Mamadi Diane made 3 of 4 shots (all 3-pointers) for 9 points to go with 5 rebounds and 2 steals.

On the inside, Tunji Soroye made 2 of 3 shots for 6 points to go with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Laurynas Mikalauskas finished 2-of-4 shooting for 4 points to go with 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Craig Smith led BC with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists.

“At home, they’ve done that. That’s the difference in this [Virginia] team. Those individuals have played well at home and on the road, they may not have played as well,” Skinner said. “We didn’t do as good a job as we needed. … You don’t want to take anything away from those two guys [Singletary and Reynolds], but they’ve been pretty consistent and they’ve been working their tails off all year long. It’s the role guys that are going to make the difference in wins and losses and tonight, at home, they played extremely well.”

After taking an early 5-0 lead, Virginia allowed Boston College to surge ahead with a 7-0 response. That’s when the Cavaliers blew the roof off University Hall with a 26-6 burst that brought the house to an uproar.

The plays in the spurt:

  • Singletary stops BC’s 7-0 run by splitting a double team and making a tough shot; 7-7.
  • Reynolds rattled off 5 unanswered points with a layup and a stop-and-pop 3-pointer in transition; 12-7.
  • Diane drains a 3-pointer that noticeably fires the team up; 15-7.
  • Reynolds drives and scores on a ridiculously difficult shot that he flipped toward the basket while getting fouled. He added the free throw; 18-9.
  • Reynolds and Singletary hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push the scoring run to 19-6 in less than 5 minutes; 24-13.
  • Soroye scores down low on a T.J. Bannister assist; 26-13.
  • Reynolds erupts for 5 consecutive points for the second time in the run, including a 3-pointer from nearly 30 feet away; 31-13.

From there, the Cavaliers kept the Eagles at arm’s length the rest away – BC put together a 15-7 run to end the half, but the closest the visitors got at any point in the final 25 minutes was nine points. Both of those instances happened in the first half at 31-22 and 33-24 as the lead stayed in double digits for the final 22 minutes of the game.

UVa improved to 11-2 (6-1 ACC) in University Hall this season with the victory. But the Cavaliers hit the road for two of their last three games, including a trip to Clemson on Saturday. So far, Virginia has just two road wins this season, including a 1-5 ACC record away from home.

“Once we got the lead, we never really [succumbed] and there have been times this year that we have obviously,” Leitao said. “So, we continue to have it figured out a little bit here at home and we have to continue to challenge ourselves to bring that same kind of mindset on the road.”

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