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No. 21 Virginia back in the winning column with 62-51 victory over Miami

CONFIRMED: Winning is way more fun than losing.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 21 Virginia Cavaliers sent the seniors out with a win as the Hoos ended their three-game losing streak with a 62-51 win over the Miami Hurricanes. The Cavaliers improve to 16-6 (12-4 ACC) with the win.

Virginia shot 40% from the field and 36% from three, though brutal shooting in the second half brought those numbers down significantly. Neither team lit it up in the final 20 minutes, but the Cavaliers held between a six and 11-point lead for the entirety of the second half.

Sam Hauser led Virginia with 18 points and six rebounds, followed by Trey Murphy with 12 points and six rebounds. Jay Huff had seven points and seven boards, and the PG duo of Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman combined for nine assists and one turnover.

Virginia got great contributions from Justin McKoy (eight points, six rebounds, two steals) and Francisco Caffaro (four points, three rebounds) as the bench chipped in 20 points.

The Cavaliers played outstanding defense on Miami’s Isaiah Wong, holding him to just 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting. The Hurricanes shot 38% from the field and 27% from three and turned it over 11 times, leading to 13 points for Virginia.

Tomas Woldetensae, who got the start over Beekman on Senior Night, got the first basket for Virginia as he canned a three to put the Hoos up 3-2 early. Virginia got two free throws from Murphy and a put-back lay-in from Huff, but five straight from Miami gave the visitors a 9-7 lead. The Cavaliers went back in front with a three from Murphy, and they should have been able to build it further with a steal and three-on-one fast break. Instead, Clark mishandled the pass and Miami got a run-out and easy bucket on the other end to take a one-point lead into the under-16 timeout.

Hauser gave Virginia the lead back with a tough layup, but it didn’t last long as Wong converted two free throws for the Canes. Miami built its lead to three before McKoy hit three straight buckets — and tipped out an offensive rebound — to put Virginia on top 18-15.

The Cavaliers took a 24-20 lead thanks to big buckets from Francisco Caffaro, but went cold offensively and let Miami rattle off six straight points to take a two-point advantage with 5:29 left in the first half. A much-need three from Hauser — his first of the game — gave Virginia the one-point advantage until McGusty got into the lane easily (again) for another layup.

Four straight free throws for the Cavaliers put the home team up 31-28, and the defense forced Wong into a difficult shot that caromed off the rim. Woldetensae mishandled the ball, losing it in the lane, but McKoy was there to clean it up for the hoop and harm. His free throw missed, but Virginia’s lead grew to five with just under two minutes left in the half. The Hoos would push that to eight within 20 seconds as Murphy came up with a steal and found Hauser for a transition three to make it 36-28.

Miami attempted an alley-oop, but McKoy sniffed it out for the interception. Hauser’s third three of the half pushed the lead to 11, and Gak and Murphy traded buckets to keep it there as the two teams headed into the break with Virginia leading 41-30.

The Hoos shot 48.3% from the field in the first half and 55.6% from three, led by Hauser’s 11 points. Clark (four assists, one turnover) and Beekman (three assists) were dishing the ball well, and Caffaro, Huff, and Hauser each had three rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

Miami shot 48% from the field, but turned it over seven times. Olaniyi led with nine points, followed by McGusty with eight.

Virginia’s defense was very active early in the second, but the Hoos couldn’t build on their lead as shots from McKoy and Woldetensae wouldn’t fall. Good passing led to Woldetensae finding Beekman for a finger roll lay-in and a 13-point Virginia lead.

Wong connected on a three to cut the lead to 10, and Murphy had two really good looks from three rim out. Miami made it an eight point game as Virginia went on a five minute scoring drought despite running some good offense. Walker hit a two for the Canes, but Huff ended the Cavalier drought with a three to keep Virginia ahead 46-37.

Walker and Hauser traded twos, keeping Virginia in front by an arms’ length as they approached the halfway point of the second half. Morsell played outstanding one-on-one defense on one end of the court, then took it baseline for the reverse lay-in on the other end to give Virginia a 10-point lead.

Miami cut the lead to eight with two free throws, but Murphy got a high-arcing three to fall to make it 53-42 with 6:09 to play. McGusty and Hauser traded buckets, but Miami got back within six as they scored five straight points. Beekman read the Hurricane defense, driving the lane and finding himself wide open under the basket for a layup and the 57-49 lead with 2:27 remaining.

The Cavaliers withstood a flurry of fouls as Miami tried to makeup for the low number of fouls called in the game, and Hauser hit a three to give the Hoos an 11-point cushion once again. Miami would miss, and Tony Bennett was able to bring in Austin Katstra and get send offs for Huff, Hauser, and Woldetensae.

Next up, Virginia closes out the regular season with a road game at Louisville on Saturday. The game is scheduled for 4pm and will be aired on ESPN/ESPN2.