Mike Scott finished with 8 points against Wake Forest.
After a two-game respite in the middle of the month provided fans with two home wins, Virginia finished February on the same sour note that has been ringing in ears for months. On Saturday, Wake Forest dominated the rebounding category 42-28 and found enough easy baskets in transition or courtesy of offensive rebounds to pull out a 70-60 victory. The Hoos fell to 9-16 and 3-11 in the ACC with the loss.
The last three defeats have come by 5, 7, and 10 points.
“Oh yeah, it’s getting really frustrating because it seems like we have a chance every game,” Virginia’s Calvin Baker said. “It’s like the same story every time. Coach gives the same speech that the game was there for us to take and we didn’t take it like we were supposed to. It does get frustrating a lot.”
For the second time in three days, the Cavaliers battled throughout and kept the contest close. Every time the hosts needed a key defensive stop or a key basket to threaten to take the lead, however, they couldn’t make the critical play.
Take a look at the following moments in the second half.
With Wake Forest leading 33-24 early in the second half, UVa strung together an 8-1 run to cut the lead 35-32 on a Mike Scott dunk. On the defensive end, Jamil Tucker stepped in to take a charge. That meant it was a one-possession game with the ball and the crowd was trying to get into the game. Tucker turns it over and Wake’s L.D. Williams scores to push the lead to 37-32.
Mamadi Diane scored 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench.
Despite the momentary setback, Virginia stays with it and again cuts into the lead. This time Sylven Landesberg makes two free throws and follows that up by scoring off a curl screen to make the Wake lead 37-36. On the other end, however, UVa has a breakdown that leads to a wide-open WFU dunk attempt, which blasted off the rim. Did the Hoos pounce on the good fortune? No. Mike Scott missed a challenged, but makeable shot in the paint and the Demon Deacons rip off a 7-0 run. That leads to a 44-36 deficit with 11:33 to play.
Over the next several minutes, Virginia claws back to make it a four-point game on numerous occasions. The Hoos can never come up with the critical stop needed to get closer, though. Sam Zeglinski hits a short shot for 44-40, but Wake answers with a free throw and a transition lay-up to make the lead seven again. Mamadi Diane , who checked in to score 12 points, makes a 3-pointer for 47-43, but WFU’s Ishmael Smith finds a quick lay-up. Two Tunji Soroye free throws, a Baker jumper, and Diane converting both ends of a 1&1. The Deacs answered every time.
Late in the game, UVa finally gets the score back to one possession as Diane finds Scott in the post for a lay-up that made the score 56-53 in favor of the visitors. On the other end, Jeff Teague catches the ball away from the Cavs’ zone rotation, head fakes Diane’s closeout from the weak side of the zone, and calmly drains the 3-pointer to make it 59-56 and all but end the game.
“When he was sitting on the bench before I put him back in, I said, ‘Jeff, you’re not a good player; you’re a great player. And you just got to worry about the next possession, the next four and half minutes of the game, that’s all,” Wake coach Dino Gaudio said. “And every time you’re open I want you to shoot. And he hit a big, big three for us. I think it was a big three for him too, but it was a big three for us.”
Teague’s dagger shot proved to be an example of the Deacons doing what they do well in order to win. Teague, one of the ACC’s top 5 scorers, makes the clutch shot. WFU dominates the glass 42-28, including 15 offensive rebounds for 14 second-chance points. Entering the game, the Deacs sat third in the league with a +5.4 rebounding margin.
An up-tempo, high-scoring team, Wake entered the game second in the league in scoring offense at 82.5 points per game. While UVa held the visitors below that mark, the Demon Deacons still found a way to score some key baskets in transition or against an unsettled defense. The official box score credited Wake Forest with 8 fastbreak points, but the unofficial tally against unsettled situations, including free throws created by fouls on the break, reached at least 15 points.
Cavalier coach Dave Leitao said the rebounding numbers and transition baskets were a key to the outcome.
“I thought that early on with the zone it had some level of effectiveness. They only scored three baskets at halftime off our halfcourt defense. They had the rest of them either off our turnovers or fastbreak baskets, that kind of thing,” Leitao said. “Inversely, I thought if we could rebound and run that we could maybe get more energy ourselves. I thought, especially in the second half, we allowed far too many second shots, which dug into our ability to run and get some transition baskets. Attitude wise, it helped them because they weren’t making plays from the perimeter. I thought playing the odds would allow us to pack it in just a tad bit more and make them have to make plays over the top. We got a number of guys for them shooting jump shots and unfortunately for us, they got those second shots in and made us pay. Essentially that was the difference in the game.”
Sammy Zeglinski had 1 assist and 3 turnovers.
Virginia didn’t help itself with offensive struggles and untimely turnovers either. For the game, the Cavaliers shot 41.1%, including 6 of 22 from 3-point range (27.3%). Baker led the way with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting while Landesberg (10 points), Diane (12), Jeff Jones (8), and Scott (8) chipped in some scoring as well.
The poor shooting didn’t find a boost in the team offense category. The Hoos produced 17 turnovers with the team’s three primary ball handlers posting 11 of the miscues (Baker 5, Landesberg 3, and Zeglinski 3). Unlike the victories mid-month where UVa had two of the season’s top assists games – 19 against Clemson and 18 against VT – Saturday saw just 9 helpers from the hosts.
It’s a season-long theme that continues to hinder the Cavaliers’ chances at success.
“Ours has been bad all year long. It’s hard to give the ball back as many times as we do and still physically, and especially psychologically, stick to a game plan or believe in exactly what you’re doing,” Leitao said. “We have those empty trips. I would much rather shoot the basketball and miss, take a bad shot and miss, throw a hook shot from halfcourt and miss, than turn it over because it leads to easy baskets. This is something we have preached, whether it be frontcourt, backcourt, giving the ball back, or traveling. Those things don’t do what they need to do for our offense.”
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