The Virginia Cavaliers rebounded from last weekend’s loss to No. 5 Louisville with a big 50-49 overtime win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Tuesday night. The victory moves UVA into sole possession of fourth place in the ACC standings.
Mamadi Diakite paced the Cavaliers with 20 points - his second 20-point game of the season - while Braxton Key, who nailed the game-winning free throw, grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds. Notre Dame’s John Mooney recorded a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
After posting a season-high 73 points over the weekend, Virginia’s shooting woes returned in the first half, shooting just 38.5% and going 1-8 from beyond the arc. Notre Dame didn’t fare much better against the vaunted Pack Line defense, however, but used five long balls, including one just before the end of the half, to take a 26-22 lead heading into the break.
In the second frame, it was more of the same, as the Fighting Irish continued to cling to a narrow lead through the 10-minute mark. That changed when Jay Huff went on an 8-0 run by himself from 9:52 to 8:04 to give Virginia its first advantage since it was 10-9.
The teams continued to exchange the lead through the remainder of regulation from there, with Notre Dame moving in front 47-45 off of a T.J. Gibbs three at the 2:42 mark. Two minutes later, Mamadi Diakite’s short jumper knotted things up again, helping to send the game into overtime just after the Hoos made one last defensive stand.
The extra session provided a similar defensive battle; the two combined for five total points in the five-minute span. Braxton Key would be the one to provide the final difference, when he made the ladder of two free throws - just after air-balling his first attempt - to give Virginia a 50-49 lead with 2:04 left. That’s where the score would remain until the final buzzer, when a Rex Pflueger missed three and Key rebound effectively iced the game.
Overall, the Cavaliers finished 37.3% from the field and 25% from long distance. Notre Dame, which made just one three after the end of the first half, ended the contest shooting 32.8% - more than ten percent below their season average.
In a game that is sure to have NCAA Tournament implications down the line, the win will keep Virginia inside the projected field, while Notre Dame, which entered the contest on the outside looking in, will move farther outside of the picture.
Next up for the Cavaliers is a date with North Carolina - a team UVA beat in early December - on the road in Chapel Hill this Saturday. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPN.