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Virginia offense comes alive in 78-65 win over Boston College

Hoos avenge early season loss to the Eagles.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was a welcome sight for the Virginia men’s basketball team as the Cavalier offense came alive against Boston College for a 78-65 victory. Virginia improved to 18-7 (10-5 ACC) with the win, and it was the first win all season where the Hoos scored at least 65 points.

Five players hit double digits for the Cavaliers, led by Braxton Key’s 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Key also performed at the free throw line — a place that hadn’t really been his friend — going 5-for-8. Kihei Clark added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Jay Huff (14 points), Tomas Woldetensae (14 points) and Mamadi Diakite (10 points) also hit double digits for the Hoos.

Virginia shot very well, going 26-for-45 (58%) from the floor and 10-for-17 (59%) from three. The Hoos also finished with single-digit turnovers (9).

Nik Popovic led the way for the Eagles, scoring 22 points. Freshman Jay Heath added 18 for Boston College, and as a team they shot 46% from the field and 36% from three.

Huff got the Hoos on the board first, finishing a feed from Woldetensae. Boston College evened the score with a tough layup from Popovic, and Huff pushed his lead to 5-2 with a three from the right side of the key.

A nearly horizontal make from Key negated a bucket from Felder, while Huff’s second three of the first three minutes of the first half gave the Hoos a 10-4 lead. Boston College cut the lead to four, but a fortunate miss on an alley-oop attempt turned into a three from Kihei Clark.

Jay Heath answered with the Eagles’ first three of the game to keep the deficit at four. Woldetensae’s first bucket came acrobatically in the lane to push the lead to six, but a three and two quick twos gave Boston College a 16-15 lead as the clock hit 12 minutes to play. Virginia retook the lead with a three from Woldetensae on the next possession, and neither team was able to come up with any points for the next 2+ minutes as they traded misses and turnovers.

A Key bucket off the glass increased Virginia’s lead to four, but multiple offensive rebounds led to another Heath three. Two free throws from Diakite and another three from Woldetensae gave the Hoos a 25-19 advantage with 4:19 remaining in the first half. The two teams traded twos before Woldetensae hit his fourth three of the half to give Virginia a 32-23 lead.

Huff ended the half how he started it — another big three — and sent Virginia into the break with a 35-23 advantage. Huff had 11 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in 17 minutes of first half action, and Woldetensae added 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

As a team, Virginia shot 50% from the field and 58% from three. The Hoos had five turnovers in the first half, leading to two points for Boston College.

Heath had eight points for the Eagles thanks to 2-for-2 shooting beyond the arc, and Popovic chipped in six. BC shot just 35% from the field and 30% from three, but turned the ball over just three times.

Diakite got the second half going with two made free throws before Popovic got a friendly roll from the JPJ rim to keep the advantage at 12. Jairus Hamilton took advantage of an empty possession from the Cavaliers (the bad kind of shot clock violation) with a long two to cut the lead to 10. Another bucket from the Eagles made it a quick 6-0 run, but Clark answered with an old-fashioned three-point play.

Clark’s third foul came with 17:32 to play, sending the second year point guard to the bench. A terrible foul call against Diakite extended possession for BC, resulting in a Popovic three, but Woldetensae canned yet another from the corner to keep Virginia ahead 43-32. Huff answered a dunk from Hamilton with one made free throw, but Mitchell hit a three to cut the BC deficit to seven.

Three free throws from the Hoos and a jumper from BC kept things at an eight-point gap before Clark found Key for a layup and a 49-39 lead with 13:29 remaining. Good ball movement led to another easy bucket for Virginia — this one a dunk from Key — and Boston College took a timeout to attempt to stem the Hoos’ 6-0 run.

Hamilton ended the run with another three, bringing Virginia’s advantage back to double digits. Stattmann, had the answer, however, with his own three from the corner. Virginia forced a turnover, and Diakite took advantage of Popovic having three fouls by blowing by him on the baseline for an easy bucket. Popovic scored on the other end to keep the deficit at 12 with just over 11 minutes to play.

Clark put nearly the entire BC defense on skates for a layup, and Huff finished an alley-oop between two buckets from Popovic as the Eagles hung around, 61-50. Key got more comfortable at the free throw with two clean makes, putting Virginia up by 13.

In a scary moment, Morsell went down on the court and had to be helped off after seemingly turning his ankle on the defensive end. Buckets from Clark and Key pushed the lead to 17, and Stattmann’s second three of the game gave Virginia a 70-50 lead with 5:22 to play.

Heath stopped the 9-0 run with a jumper, and Boston College would go on to score the next six points to cut the lead to 12 with 2:22 remaining. Clark got Virginia back in the scoring column with a pair of free throws, and Boston College missed on an attempt from three.

Five more points from Clark were answered with a jumper and three from BC, and Diakite finished the scoring off with a free throw.

Next up, Virginia heads to Pittsburgh for a noon contest against the Panthers on Saturday.