Things looked dicey at times, but the No. 9 Virginia Cavaliers improved to 9-1 (2-0 ACC) thanks to a sleepy December home win over Stony Brook, 56-44. Virginia went on a 14-4 run over a 4:17 span late in the second half to pull away from the Seawolves as Kihei Clark led the Hoos with 14 points. Mamadi Diakite (13 points) and Jay Huff (12 points) also hit double digits on the evening.
Tomas Woldetensae finished with eight points on 2-for-3 shooting from three, his second straight game with two or more threes with only one miss from beyond the arc.
Virginia got off to a hot start, but shot 40% from the field and 31% from three for the game. The Hoos finished with 10 turnovers, but forced the Seawolves into 17 of their own. The Cavaliers finished with 0.98 points per possession for the game.
Stony Brook, who came into the game shooting 36.2% from three, went 5-for-21 (24%) beyond the arc. Overall, the Seawolves shot 38%, led by Elijah Olaniyi’s 11 points.
Clark got things off to a hot start with a triple on Virginia’s first possession, and Diakite built it to a 5-2 advantage with a long two off of a baseline in-bounds play. Clark and Diakite added two more buckets before Stattmann scored two of his own (including a three) to put the Cavaliers up 14-2 with 14:18 to play in the first half.
Virginia built the 12 point lead off of hot shooting and stifling defense, forcing the Seawolves into five turnovers in the first 6:02 of the game. Andrew Garcia doubled Stony Brook’s point total with his second layup of the game, which came nearly six minutes after his first.
To the delight of Virginia fans, Braxton Key checked into the game with 13:58 left in the firsts half. Key had missed the last three games for the Hoos (Maine, Purdue, and North Carolina) after breaking his wrist against Arizona State. Key played seven minutes, but didn’t get any points.
Back-to-back buckets from Stony Brook — coupled with a five minute scoring drought from Virginia — cut the UVA lead to 14-9 with just over nine minutes left in the half. Diakite broke a 6:27 scoring drought for the Cavaliers with a pair of free throws, and Stony Brook turned it over on its next possession with a traveling violation.
Diakite put in an arcing floater to make it 18-9 as the clock hit 7:15, Virginia’s first field goal since a Stattmann three with 14:18 to play. Clark connected on a tough jump shot as the shot clock expired, but a goal tend call against Caffaro put the Seawolves into double digits at 11. Woldetensae got into the scoring column with a soft jumper to give Virginia a 22-11 lead before Stony Brook responded with its first three of the game.
Huff hit a long two with ease, then forced a tie-up near mid-court to make Stony Brook reset its offense. Stattmann missed a three on Virginia’s next possession, and the Seawolves made it 24-16 with a high-arcing layup. Clark took advantage of an extra possession created by a block from Huff, taking the ball into the lane for a floater.
Stony Brook corralled the rebound of an air-balled three for an easy put-back, making it an eight point game with under three minutes left in the half. Clark ended another extended scoring drought — this one 2:41 — with two free throws to put the Cavaliers up 28-18. An offensive rebound late gave Stony Brook the final shot of the half, and Miles Latimer connected on the Seawolves second three of the game to cut Virginia’s lead to 28-21 at the break.
Clark led Virginia with 11 first half points on 4-for-5 shooting. Diakite added eight points, and Stattmann had five as the Cavaliers shot 39% from the field over the first 20 minutes. Virginia hit two of its first four threes of the game (50%), but went 0-for-6 the rest of the half to go 2-for-10 (20%).
Stony Brook shot 43% from the field (9-for-21), but went 2-for-20 from three and turned the ball over 11 times in the first half. The Hoos held the Seawolves to just 0.7 points per possession in the first half, but only led by seven as they couldn’t take advantage of all the turnovers.
A turnover from Stattmann led to an easy bucket in transition to open the half for Stony Brook, but Diakite answered with a turnaround jumper to return the lead to seven. Clark hit his second three of the game after an emphatic dunk from the Seawolves, but SBU responded with one of its own to make it 33-28.
Morsell’s first bucket of the game came on a strong baseline drive with 17:10 to play. Stony Brook cut it back to five on a blow-by layup, and Virginia came up empty on its next five possessions. A turnover from Clark ended in a missed shot from Stony Brook, and Huff slammed home a miss from Morsell to return the lead to seven points with just over 12 minutes remaining.
Another Stony Brook three — its second of the half — cut the lead to four, and Diakite managed to get one back at the free throw line to make it 38-33 midway through the half. Two free throws from Huff made it a seven point lead once again, but Virginia refused to take advantage as they let Stony Brook shoot its way back into it with another three.
Woldentensae came up with an answer on an ugly banked-in three (still counts) to make it 43-36. An easy dunk from Mouhamadou Gueye kept the pressure on, but Huff responded with a put back layup off of a late shot clock miss from Clark. Huff pushed the lead to nine with a shot fake at the arc for an easy layup with 5:24 left on the clock, giving the Hoos a little breathing room.
All the action went through Huff as the 7-1 big man blocked a shot, leading to a transition alley-oop from Clark to Stattmann for the 11 point lead with 4:42 remaining in the game. Latimer ended a 2:47 scoring drought for the Seawolves to bring them back within single digits, but Diakite added two at the free throw line to make it 51-40. A well-timed three from Woldetensae let the fans in attendance let out a sigh of relief as the Hoos took a 14-point lead as the clocked ticked through three minutes remaining.
Two free throws from SBU were answered with a spinning layup from Huff on the other end as the Cavaliers just tried to burn clock for the win.
Next up, Virginia hosts South Carolina on Sunday. Game time is set for 3pm, and the game will be aired on ABC.