In an ugly road contest against the James Madison Dukes, the Virginia Cavaliers collected their fourth loss of the season in a 52-49 stinker. The offense struggled all night as the ‘Hoos struggled to hit shots all night long
Each offense started the game quiet as the score sat at 4-2 over five minutes into the contest. Jayden Gardner scored the first two buckets for the ‘Hoos while the Cavalier backcourt struggled to put the ball in the net in the team’s second road contest of the season.
Out of the media timeout, the Wahoo offense got into a rhythm and scored six straight points to take a 10-2 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the half. A long two from Kihei Clark, a jumper from the free throw line, and a bucket on the inside from Armaan Franklin got the ‘Hoos cooking.
The next four minutes belonged to the Dukes, though, as JMU pulled ahead 13-11 by the under-eight timeout. The Virginia offense stalled out while James Madison started to hit shots to claw its way back into the game.
What seemed to be just a few minutes of rough play turned into more than a ten-minute scoring drought for UVA as the ‘Hoos bricked shot after shot after shot after shot. The offense had absolutely nothing going and — even when Virginia generated an open look on the perimeter — it became apparent that the ‘Hoos couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn.
On the half, Virginia shot 6-22 from the field and 1-14 from deep while turning the ball over a whopping nine times. Not exactly a recipe for success. Gardner (six points) and Clark (five points) combined to score 11 of the team’s first half 14 points.
While James Madison was far superior offensively, the Dukes still had their fair share of struggles and only led by 10, 24-14 after the first 20 minutes of gameplay.
Fortunately, Virginia came out a bit smoother offensively in the second half. In fact, in the first 3:58 of the second period the ‘Hoos scored seven points off another Clark triple, an alley oop slam from Shedrick, and a put-back layup from Franklin. Just over four minutes in, Virginia had cut the deficit to seven points at 29-22.
After that, the floodgates opened for each offense as shots started to fall. A triple each from Beekman and Clark kept Virginia in the game while JMU scored 10 quick points in less than three minutes of play.
The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes before the ‘Hoos started to draw closer. Six straight points from Kadin Shedrick pulled Virginia within one point with 4:35 remaining and the score sitting at 44-43. An Armaan Franklin floater on the following possession gave UVA its first lead since the 9:19 mark of the first half.
A tough bucket from Justin Amadi put the Dukes back in the lead before Reece Beekman drove to the rim, missed the layup, got his rebound, then drew a foul, and converted on the free throws to put the ‘Hoos up 47-46 with just over two minutes left.
Charles Falden responded in turn with a midrange pull-up, yet Armaan Franklin put Virginia right back on top with a jumper of his own to make the score 49-48 with 1:27 left. But, a smooth turnaround jumper from Takal Molson continued the back-and-forth final few minutes.
A missed three from Franklin on the ensuing possession essentially doomed the ‘Hoos as Molson went back to the same exact move after a JMU timeout and put the Dukes up by three with 22 seconds remaining.
A missed long three from Clark more or less put an end to Virginia’s chances. Yet, a Vado Morse miss on the front end of a one-and-one meant that Armaan Franklin had a half court heave to send the game to overtime.
But, as most of Virginia’s threes did tonight, the ball missed wide as the clock expired with the final score at 52-49, James Madison.
Now 6-4 on the season, there’s going to be plenty more reckoning regarding this Wahoo squad and what the team’s potential truly is this season.