After eleven days off, the Virginia Cavaliers returned to action against Fairleigh Dickinson in a Saturday afternoon contest. This was meant to be a get-right game for the ‘Hoos and boy was it ever as UVA took a 82-49 victory over the Knights in convincing fashion. Despite some understandably rusty play following the exam break, Virginia took control late in the first half and never looked back.
Kadin Shedrick opened the scoring for Virginia with a dunk off a Reece Beekman drive and feed before Jayden Gardner hit a pair of floaters on the next two possessions to put the ‘Hoos up 6-0.
Two straight triples from the Knights tied the game at six four minutes into the game, though.
Yet, the ‘Hoos responded in turn as two consecutive Gardner put back scores gave Virginia a four-point lead before he scored off a mid -post drive to counter a Fairleigh Dickinson bucket on the other end.
In fact, Gardner scored 10 of the team’s first 12 points as he displayed just how dominant he can be against inferior competition.
The scoring stalled out a bit from there. Armaan Franklin got on the board with a floater and then a free throw to make the score 18-11, Virginia with just over nine and a half minutes remaining in the first half.
The ‘Hoos really struggled to build up any sort of meaningful advantage and continued to let the Knights to stay in the game. With six minutes remaining in the first UVA led by five points, 22-17.
A transition dunk from Gardner and a floater in the lane from Franklin highlighted a 10-point run from Virginia as the ‘Hoos took their largest lead of 15 points with the score at 32-17 with just under two minutes left on the clock.
A bucket from either side to close the half meant the score differential held at 15 by the end of the first period with the ‘Hoos leading 34-19 after a sketchy start to the game.
The Wahoos picked up right where they left off as they went on a 10-0 run to start the second half. Gardner scored seven quick points to get his tally on the night up to 25 while Franklin hit his first three-pointer in 25 days and the team’s first on the day to make the score 44-19 just thee minutes into the half.
The floodgates remained open from there on out as Gardner continued to dominate. A Reece Beekman two-handed slam got Virginia to 50 and more than doubled the Knights up, 50-24 with 14:22 remaining in regulation.
Gardner closed out his day with 29 points with just over twelve minutes remaining. He was critical in Virginia’s establishing of a sufficiently large lead as he was dominant on the interior all night long.
From then on, the Wahoo depth took to the floor as Bennett started to play his young guys for the first time all game with Carson McCorkle, Taine Murray, and Igor Milicic Jr. all getting their first run midway through the second half.
Milicic made his presence felt right away with a made three to put UVA up by 31 points. McCorkle followed suit a few minutes later with a triple of his own before Milicic canned another one on the very next possession.
The three-point barrage from the bench continued as Malachi Poindexter scored his fifth, sixth, and seventh points of the game with another three for the ‘Hoos and thereby making the game a 70-40 affair.
McCorkle kept things going with a pull-up long-ball off a ball screen before he assisted Milicic on yet another three the very next possession down the court. Murray got in on the action next with a three-pointer from the corner where he had so much success against Iowa. That made the score 79-47 as Tony Bennett called a timeout to put in two walk ons.
McCorkle wouldn’t quit and continued to display what he could provide this team in rotational minutes with his third three of the game on another pull up. After that, UVA student manager Chris Mcgahren entered the game to add another feel good element to the final minutes for Virginia.
All in all, this game turned out to be the get-right game that the Wahoos needed. Fairleigh Dickinson is not good or even decent by any stretch of the imagination. But a win is a win and Virginia will look to carry this momentum into ACC play.