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Virginia escapes undermanned Wake Forest in 65-63 OT thriller

Woldetensae heats up from downtown in the win.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Tomas Woldetensae found his new favorite place to play as the transfer wing player scored a game-high 21 points as Virginia picked up a big win at Wake Forest, 65-63, in overtime. Woldetensae went 7-for-14 from beyond the arc, and added six rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal to go with one turnover.

His seven three performance was the most made by a Virginia player in a single game since Kyle Guy went 7-for-9 against NC State in the 2019 ACC tournament.

Mamadi Diakite (16 points) and Kihei Clark (13 points) both scored in double digits for the Hoos, who moved into a tie for 5th place in the ACC with the win. The Cavaliers are now 13-6 (5-4 ACC) and finally finished off a game late.

Virginia trailed by seven at the half and by as many as 12 in the second half, but mounted a furious comeback yet again. For the game, the Hoos shot 37% from the field and 27% from three. The Cavaliers went 8-for-30 from beyond the arc, with only Jay Huff making a three besides Woldetensae. Despite the continued struggles from three, Virginia went 23-for-33 (69.7%) from two for the game.

Although Virginia finished with 14 turnovers, they had just one — a shot clock violation in OT — from the 8:19 mark in the second half.

Wake Forest’s Andrien White dropped 21 on the Cavaliers, and Wake shot 42% from three for the game. The Demon Deacons used inexplicably hot shooting in the first half and consistent free throw shooting (21-for-24) to keep things close despite missing its two leading scorers in Brandon Childress and Chaundee Brown.

After falling behind 4-3, Virginia went on an 9-0 run over 9:07 minutes to take a 12-4 lead with nine remaining in the first. Sarr would end a 9:55 scoring drought for the Demon Deacons, scoring the first six points for Wake Forest. After Key made one free throw, Neath got in the scoring column for Wake with a three, its first of the game.

Virginia twice built a 7-point lead — once thanks to Woldetensae’s third three of the half, once thanks to an old-fashioned three point play from Caffaro — but used a combination of turnovers, misses, and fouling to allow the Demon Deacons to take a 22-21 lead. A broken play under Wake’s basket ricocheted to an open shooter, and he connected for three to give the Deacs a four-point lead with just under four minutes to play in the half.

Mucius pushed Wake’s lead to 27-21 before Woldetensae connected again from outside, but

Wake closed the half on a 20-7 run en route to a 35-28 lead at the break. The Demon Deacons, who average 34% from beyond the arc for the season, made 6-of-9 in the first 20 minutes (67%). They also added 11 points (on 12 attempts) at the free throw line. White led the Deacs in the first half with 11 points, followed by Sarr with eight.

Woldetensae led the Hoos with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Virginia was 11-for-13 (85%) from two, but went 4-for-11 from three (36%) to shoot 46% for the half. The turnover issues reared their head again in the first half with nine giveaways that led to just four points for Wake.

Wake opened the second half where they left off in the first: a made three. The Demon Deacons would get out to as many as 12, but Virginia used a 9-2 run to pull within five with 14:06 remaining. A big three from Woldetensae — the first of the second half for Virginia — cut Wake’s lead to 44-40, and Key connected on two free throws to make it a two-point game with 10:30 remaining.

Clark tied the game at 44-44 with two made free throws, and Morsell put the Hoos ahead with a fast break layup. Sarr would even things up again on the next possession, and another Woldetensae three — his sixth! — gave Virginia a 49-46 advantage. A jumper from Torry Johnson kept the pressure on, but Virginia couldn’t build the lead after a dunk from Key came back out and Diakite missed two at the line.

Wake re-took the lead with a layup with three minutes left, and Johnson made it a two-point advantage with the bonus free throw. Clark evened things once again with a jumper, but Virginia once again couldn’t capitalize after getting a stop defensively as Woldetensae had a a shot blocked and Morsell missed a three.

The Demon Deacons re-took the lead at the free throw line, but Huff came up huge with a three to give the Hoos a slim 54-53 lead with 34 seconds left. Mucius missed a three, and Clark kept his cool at the free throw line as he sank both to put Virginia up three with 20 seconds remaining.

White threw up a desperation heave with 1.7 seconds left on the clock, but Morsell clipped him on the hand for the foul call. He made all three, sending the game to overtime.

Key gave the Hoos a quick advantage in the extra period, but Wake answered to tie things right back up. Woldetensae canned a big three to make it 61-58, but Huff’s fifth foul sent him to the bench and Mucius to the free throw line. He missed the first — Wake’s second miss from the line in 21 attempts — and made the second to keep the Deacs within two points.

Two free throws from Diakite gave the Hoos a four-point advantage with 3:04 left in the extra period, and Wake turned the ball over on its next possession. Virginia was unable to build on the lead, and the Deacs cut it to one off of a three from Mucius. Key missed two free throws, but thankfully the ball went out of bounds off Wake.

Diakite followed a miss under the basket from Key and somehow got the fadeaway two to rattle in for the 65-62 advantage. One free throw from Wake closed the gap to two, and Woldetensae’s three wouldn’t fall, giving Wake one chance to tie or win the game with eight seconds left. Danny Manning called a timeout, and Virginia’s defense came up with a huge stop as the Deacons didn’t even get a shot off before the game clock expired.

Next up, Virginia has a huge opportunity as they host Florida State on Tuesday night.