In a game that really wasn’t ever in doubt, the Virginia Cavaliers came out victorious over the Coppin State Eagles 68-52. With the win, UVA improves to 2-2 on the season heading into the Legends Classic early next week.
Jayden Gardner led the ‘Hoos in scoring for the third time this season with 14 points on 4-9-shooting while a number of young guys stepped up to complement the senior offensively.
Gardner opened the scoring for the ‘Hoos on the first possession and then found Kihei Clark for a mid-range jumper to the put Virginia up 4-0 early. The Virginia defense was smothering from the jump, not allowing Coppin State anything easy and constantly forcing loose balls.
Just 2:32 into the game, Virginia went up 8-0 from an Armaan Franklin transition dunk and forced the Eagles to call an early timeout. Coppin State did finally put points on the board at the at the 15:45 mark and the score sat at 8-2 at the first media timeout with 14:55 remaining in the first half.
UVA kept its foot on the gas as the half progressed, extending the lead to 16-4 by the halfway point of the first. The Eagles had absolutely nothing going offensively and started the game 2-14 from the floor and 0-11 from deep.
Igor Milicic Jr. and preferred walk-on Malachi Poindexter checked in shortly thereafter. Right after coming on the floor, Milicic Jr. hit a fadeaway corner three to score his first points as a Wahoo and followed that up with a pull-up mid-range jumper on the following possession.
With Milicic Jr.’s five points and a sweet layup from Kody Stattmann, Virginia led 23-6 at the eight-minute media timeout. But, a triple followed up by an impressive put-back from the Eagles brought the deficit back down to 12.
The Wahoo offense did stall out a bit to close out the half while the Eagles started to hit a few shots and grow more comfortable offensively. Coppin State made the score 30-20 with 3:38 remaining in the first to put a bit of fear into the hearts of Wahoo fans.
But, a pair of free throws from Milicic Jr. and a tough and-one finish in transition from Armaan Franklin with 1.6 seconds in the first put the ‘Hoos up by 15, 35-20 as the buzzer sounded.
There was no let-up for the Cavaliers in the second half. A tough layup from Franklin, a jumper from the free throw line from Shedrick, and then a strong one armed offensive rebound leading to an and-one dunk for the center out of Raleigh meant the offense was back in rhythm early.
Coppin State did hit a few tough shots to prevent the game from getting too out of hand as the Eagles cut their deficit to ten points with 12:21 left in regulation. But, Kody Stattmann’s second three of the night stopped the bleeding for the ‘Hoos. From then on, the Eagles couldn’t do much else as the ‘Hoos went on cruise control.
Kadin Shedrick impressed as the second half progressed and finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. One sequence in particular when he blocked a shot, dove into the crowd to save the possession, and then corralled and offensive rebound and flushed home a dunk emphasized his incredibly potential as a do-it-all big in the Virginia system.
With 6:28 remaining in the game, a free throw from Jayden Gardner put Virginia up by 20, 58-38 to tie for UVA’s largest lead of the game at that point. Bennett then started to filter his starters out of the game with the ‘Hoos comfortably winning heading into the final five minutes of the night.
Another triple from the new fan favorite Milicic Jr. made the score 63-44 heading into the final media timeout of the game. As the clock winded down, Malachi Poindexter scored the first bucket of his season.
A made free throw from Milicic Jr. would close out the scoring for Virginia with 1:54 in the game and the ‘Hoos bench closed out the game to finish with a comfortable 16-point victory.