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NCAA Tournament: Virginia survives challenge from UNC Wilmington, wins 76-71

It wasn’t easy, but the Hoos gutted out a win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Virginia vs North Carolina-Wilmington Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Marial Shayok scored a career-high 23 points, and London Perrantes led all scorers with 24 as fifth-seeded Virginia rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit to beat No. 12 UNC Wilmington, 76-71, in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.

The Cavaliers (23-10) trailed big early, down 26-11 halfway through the first half. A 19-3 run, however, propelled the Hoos to a 30-29 halftime advantage. Virginia extended their lead to as many as 10 points in the second half before UNC-W cut it to 3 points with 3:30 remaining. Keyed by a huge bank-shot from Marial Shayok to bring the lead to 4 with 26 seconds remaining, Virginia held on for a five point win.

Virginia played much of the game with five guards on the floor, as Isaiah Wilkins was relegated to the bench with an illness (playing just 5 minutes), and Jack Salt and Mamadi Diakite played relatively sparingly (16 and 5 minutes, respectively). They made up for struggles on the boards, where UNC-W rebounded 33% of their own misses, with huge performances from Perrantes and Shayok, as well as redshirt third year Darius Thompson. Thompson finished with 10 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and four blocks.

The Seahawks had four players in double figures but were held to 41 percent shooting from the floor. Devontae Cacock led UNC-W with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Chris Flemmings chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds. Ambrose Mosley had the hot hand from outside the arc for the Seahawks, going 4-for-4 from three and helping UNC-W stay in the game. Neither team turned it over at a high rate, with both teams finishing with nine turnovers apiece. UNC-W’s final turnover came with 15 seconds left in the game with Virginia holding on to a four-point lead, essentially sealing the game for the Hoos.

Devon Hall (six points), Ty Jerome (five points), and Kyle Guy (five points) all sat out portions of the second half with foul issues, but Thompson and Shayok performed admirably. Virginia fans had a heart-stopping moment (one of many) when Perrantes exited the game holding his left arm in pain, but he re-entered minutes later and finished strong.

After the game, Isaiah Wilkins reported that he will miss the team’s second round game Saturday, a tough loss for the Hoos. Get well soon, Isaiah!

UVa will play the winner of No. 4 Florida and No. 13 East Tennessee State on Saturday. Tip-off time for that game will be announced late tonight.