In an afternoon romp against St. Francis (PA), the No. 15 Virginia Cavaliers got a comfortable 76-51 win to improve to 2-1 on the season. It was Virginia’s first game at home in this unprecedented season as teams around the country deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The atmosphere inside John Paul Jones Arena was eerie. The player benches were four rows with immense spacing, and players wore masks when seated. A smattering of applause from the extremely limited crowd (also fully masked) greeted the team when they entered the court from a different tunnel than years prior. Pre-recorded chants of “let’s go Hoos” and “go Hoos go” played when the Cavaliers were on offense, while crowd noise pumped out of the audio system while on defense. When the Hoos forced the shot clock below 10, the recording shifted to more frantic cheers to mimic the JPJ crowd.
Virginia jumped out to an 8-0 lead before SFU made its first basket as Tony Bennett tweaked lineups. Reece Beekman and Tomas Woldetensae got the start in the place of Kihei Clark and Casey Morsell, and they joined by Justin McKoy, Sam Hauser, and Jay Huff.
Virginia once-again looked the part of a top-15 team as they dominated St. Francis in every facet of the game. The Hoos took a 45-13 lead into the break as Huff put up 11 points and Woldetensae added eight. As a team, the Cavaliers shot 67% from the field for the first half and held the Red Flash to 4-for-23 shooting (17%).
The second half was not as pretty, but it took until there was 1:58 left in the game before St. Francis surpassed Virginia’s first half scoring with a three that made it 74-46. Sixteen players saw the court for the Hoos, but only two — Beekman and Woldetensae — played 20 or more minutes in the game.
Four different players scored in double-digits for the Cavaliers, led by Huff with 13. Shedrick had 12 points in 17 minutes on 5-for-6 shooting with eight rebounds. Hauser finished with 11 points, and Trey Murphy added 10.
For the game, 52% from the field, but continued a little bit of a struggle beyond the arc with 22% shooting from three. Woldetensae looked great on both ends of the court, scoring eight points and adding three rebounds and four assists. Beekman finished with four assists as the team assisted 18 of 30 made baskets.
The Hoos were all over the boards, grabbing nine offensive rebounds that led to 12 second chance points.
The defense improved, holding SFU to 36% from the field and 29% from three. Ramiir Dixon-Conover, who scored 21 points in SFU’s upset of Pitt, missed the game with an injury. Bryce Laskey led the Red Flash with 12 points against the Hoos.
Next up, Virginia stays at home for a game with Kent State on Friday night. The game is scheduled for 6pm and will be streamed on the ACC Network.