Virginia’s Joe Harris posted 18 points in the loss.
It remains to be seen how this year’s Virginia men’s basketball team will fare in ACC play. If it goes anything like the CAA portion of the schedule, however, it’s going to be a long year for the Hoos. On Saturday, UVa dropped its third game of the season and fell to 0-3 against CAA competition as Old Dominion took down the Cavaliers, 63-61, at the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic in Richmond.
The defeat snapped an eight-game winning streak and left Virginia with a 9-3 record on the season. The three losses came against CAA foes ODU, Delaware (59-53), and George Mason (63-59), who won the early game in the Governor’s Classic with a buzzer-beater against Richmond.
“We should have done a lot of things better,” Nolte told The Daily Progress’ Whitelaw Reid.
Much like the Morgan State game on Wednesday, the Cavaliers’ first after an exam break, the defense faltered in a major way against the Monarchs (2-10), who snapped a nine-game losing streak with the victory. Against the Bears mid-week, the Hoos allowed 52.2% shooting in the second half and 46.7% shooting overall while DeWayne Jackson broke down the defense individually with 32 points.
ODU tried to replicate that second-half script with a 44.4% effort after intermission. After scoring just 24 points in the first 25:30 minutes, the Monarchs ripped off 39 points in the final 14:30 to grab the win. That scoring outburst surprisingly came on the heels of a fast second-half start for UVa, which climbed out to a 34-24 lead at the 14:25 mark of the half when Joe Harris canned a 3-pointer. Following that bucket, Old Dominion erupted with a 20-4 scoring run thanks to Dimitri Batten. He helped start that burst with 8 straight points to tie the game at 34-34 and then finished it off with another triple that gave his team a 44-38 lead with 8:17 to go. Batten had 14 points during that key run and put up 23 on the day. Much like Jackson, who finished 11-of-16 shooting for Morgan State, on Wednesday, Batten made 8 of 13 shots on Saturday.
To make matters worse, the Monarchs came up with 12 offensive rebounds to win the board battle 39-32. Old Dominion is only the second team to out-rebound Virginia this season (North Texas did as well by a count of 34-28).
Simply put, that’s not a defensive effort that will produce success for a Bennett program focused heavily around that end of the floor.
“They did a good job and deserved to win that game with the way they battled,” Bennett told The Daily Progress. “The crucial times for us came when we when we needed to come up with a stop just to keep the ball out of the lane. I think at those crucial times is when Old Dominion made some plays. Either we were undisciplined, broke down and they got to the front of the rim or were just physical enough to get the offensive rebounds. We couldn’t come with a stop when we needed to.”
“Virginia is definitely based on defense and we gave up too many points to one player in the second half and that’s just not good,” Teven Jones told Whitelaw Reid.
The defense had company when talking about struggles, though. UVa’s offense managed to shoot just 39.6% for the game, a number bolstered a bit by some desperation jumpers rattling in down the stretch. Other than Harris, who came through with 18 points in a periodically shaky performance, and Evan Nolte , who posted 15 points, no other Cavalier made more than 3 shots. Harris made 6 of 15 attempts, while Nolte hit 4 of 7.
ODU effectively trailed Harris around screens and through double picks on sets like UVa’s favored Box Split look to crowd his catches or to force him to put the ball on the floor almost immediately. Frequently, Blaine Taylor’s bunch at least temporarily doubled Harris, particularly in the second half. The Monarchs also played a physical brand of basketball down low with Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins , who had been terrorizing opponents during the eight-game winning streak. The effort worked thanks in part to Deshawn Painter, an ACC caliber transfer from NC State.
Mitchell struggled to find any rhythm outside of a first-half stretch where he scored 4 of his 8 points; he finished 3-of-10 shooting with 9 rebounds. Atkins, meanwhile, battled foul trouble all night long before heading to the bench for good late in the second half on an offensive foul call. That represented the first time UVa really had been challenged with frontcourt foul trouble during the recent string of success. Atkins finished with 4 points and 4 rebounds. Reserve post Mike Tobey made 3 of 3 shot attempts to score 6 points, but he put up a goose egg in the rebounding category.
All in all, it was a forgettable outing on offense as a lack of inside scoring either in the post or off the dribble combined with poor shooting to make it a long day in Richmond.
Virginia has one more game in the 2012 non-conference portion of the schedule before the 18-game league grind begins with North Carolina on Jan. 6 to fix those issues. If the Cavaliers plan to have a better winning percentage in ACC play than with its CAA competition, there is a lot of work to be done.
“There’s a lot of learning to be done. At times, our inexperience showed,” Bennett said.