Mamadi Diane poured in 20 points, including a key 3-pointer late in the game.
A pair of scoring spurts – one near the midpoint of each half – and balanced scoring helped the Virginia men’s basketball team snap a seven-game losing streak on Sunday. Sean Singletary , Mamadi Diane , Laurynas Mikalauskas , and Mike Scott all scored in double figures as the Hoos dispatched host Boston College 79-74.
The victory was the first in nearly a month for the Cavaliers (12-12, 2-9 ACC), who last won on Jan. 19, also against BC. The Eagles have lost seven of their last eight games.
“Winning sure feels better than losing,” UVa coach Dave Leitao said on the Virginia Sports Network. “It’s been a long time. Hopefully, it doesn’t end here and we can keep moving forward.”
Early in Chestnut Hill, it looked like Boston College might be the team to shake a recent slump as the hosts surged to a 19-9 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. Following a Leitao timeout, however, the Cavs came to life on both ends of the floor. The result was a 26-8 advantage on the scoreboard that gave UVa 35-27 lead. During the run, the visitors made 11 of 14 shots and a variety of Hoos were in on the scoring act. Diane started the run with a two-point shot, which was quickly followed by a Singletary 3-pointer and a Mikalauskas lay-up. Moments later Adrian Joseph hit a 3-pointer in transition and Scott stole a BC inbounds pass before dribbling all the way to the opposite rim for a dunk.
The 26-8 burst eventually grew to 31-13 and UVa led 40-32 at intermission.
“We were just listless. One of the things I talked about immediately after the [Carolina] game the other night was to try as best you can to carry over emotion and I didn’t think we were doing that. I didn’t think either team was playing with a whole lot of energy,” Leitao said. “That’s basically what I told them [in the timeout] and they turned around and played a little bit more that way.”
The Cavs would need another strong run to maintain the edge, though, as Boston College opened the second half on an 8-0 run to tie the score at 40-40. The Cavaliers’ response was a 13-3 run that Singletary capped with a 3 at 12:20, which gave the visitors a 10-point advantage at 53-43.
As has been the case in several close conference losses, the double-digit lead eroded as BC made a late push on the scoreboard. Unlike the previous ACC setbacks, however, the Hoos came up with the plays they needed in the final five minutes to get the win.
One of the key moments down the stretch belonged to Diane. The Hoos’ lead had dwindled to 71-70 with less than a minute to play thanks to a late scoring barrage from Tyrese Rice (28 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block), meaning Virginia had to come up with at least one more big offensive possession.
Mike Scott took advantage of Lars’ Mikalauskas’ recent return by posting a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Singletary created off the dribble and attacked into the paint, which drew the attention of the entire BC defense. Diane, meanwhile, cycled behind the play and spotted up on the 3-point line just left of the top of the key. Alertly, Singletary kicked the ball back to his wide open wing and Diane calmly canned the long ball for the four-point lead at 74-70. From there, UVa – mainly Calvin Baker – made its free throws to seal the win. Diane finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist.
The Cavaliers’ also received a boost from Mikalauskas for the second straight game. Giving the team an inside offensive presence that has been missing, the junior made 6 of 7 shots to finish with 13 points; he added 4 rebounds and 1 block as well. Scott, who made his second 3-pointer of the season, benefited from Mikalauskas playing the center role. Playing at a more natural power forward slot, Scott posted 11 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 assist in one of his best performances as a freshman.
Of course, Singletary played well too. The senior guard scored 16 points, the 46th straight time he has reached double figures. He also had 4 assists and 1 steal. That steal pulled Singletary into third place on Virginia’s career steals list with 180, just 9 behind Jeff Jones the first and Chris Williams.
“Nobody thought we would lose so many games in a row and nobody thought we’d be 2-9 right now, but that’s happened and is over with. Nobody is saying we can get six in a row. Nobody is saying that, but we believe it,” Singletary said.