For the first 30 minutes of the game, Virginia held Alondes Williams in check. The ACC leader in both points (20.7 ppg) and assists (5.0 apg) had just four points on one made field goal and two assists through the first three-quarters of the game. For the most part, the on-ball defense of Reece Beekman and Armaan Franklin was shutting Williams down.
Then, Williams started to get into a rhythm offensively. Shots started to fall and Williams made a couple of dazzling cross-court passes to his teammates for open threes. That, combined with a UVA scoring drought that lasted nearly seven minutes in the second half turned a seven-point Cavalier lead into an eight-point victory for the Demon Deacons. Virginia was unable to recover after losing the lead and fell to Wake Forest 63-55 on Saturday evening at John Paul Jones Arena.
Virginia’s drought in the second half was not the only scoreless stretch of basketball for the Cavaliers in this game. UVA went nearly six minutes without a point and and nearly eight minutes without a field goal in the first half. Fortunately, the UVA defense kept things close and the Hoos found themselves only down by five points by the time the drought came to an end.
The Cavaliers then came alive on offense and, behind a few jumpers from Armaan Franklin and Kody Stattmann, UVA scored the next ten points and 17 of the next 19 points to take a 22-13 lead, the largest lead any team would have in the game. Franklin finished with a game-high 18 points on 7/11 shooting and 3/5 from three-point range, while Kody Stattmann gave the Hoos a big lift off the bench, scoring 11 points, including two three-pointers.
Virginia’s nine-point lead did not last for long, as Wake Forest closed the first half strong.
Daivien Williamson, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, drained a pull-up three over Kadin Shedrick to spark a run for the Demon Deacons. Thanks to the defense of Reece Beekman and Armaan Franklin, Alondes Williams did not score his first points of the game until less than two minutes remained in the first half. Williams’ layup to break into the box score also tied the game for the Demon Deacons. Dunks by Kadin Shedrick and Reece Beekman put the Cavaliers up four, but Isaiah Mucius, who had 12 points and eight rebounds for Wake, scored a second-chance bucket to make it 29-27 Virginia at the half.
UVA struggled to finish from close-range and the Cavaliers made just six of their 23 layup attempts in the game. Eventually, that inability to finish up close came back to bite the Hoos.
Kody Stattmann converted a three-point play, then scored again in transition after UVA forced a Wake Forest turnover. On Wake’s next trip down the floor, Reece Beekman picked the pocket of Carter Whitt and took the ball the other way on a fast break. Beekman was fouled by Whitt and made the layup, but the refs said the foul occurred on the floor, wiping Beekman’s layup off the board. Tony Bennett was uncharacteristically incensed by the call, as he felt that the Cavaliers had been on the wrong end of some questionable calls earlier in the second half as well, including an offensive foul call on Kihei Clark that gave the UVA point guard his third foul and a goaltending call on a Kadin Shedrick block. Bennett came out 10 feet onto the floor to protest the call and the refs hit Virginia with a sideline warning.
Fortunately, UVA still scored on the possession, as Jayden Gardner splashed a mid-range jumper. Gardner had another quiet performance, scoring nine points on 3/14 shooting from the floor. Gardner’s jumper put Virginia up 47-40 with 10:23 remaining, but the Cavaliers would not score again until the 3:35 mark.
Daivien Williamson hit a corner three to stop the UVA run. Then, Alondes Williams scored a layup over Kody Stattmann after a couple of Wake offensive rebounds. After another empty offensive trip for Virginia, Williams kicked out to Isaiah Mucius, who drained the three-pointer to give the Demon Deacons the lead.
Williams scored another second chance basket after he had his shot initially blocked by Reece Beekman. Jake Laravia, who led Wake Forest with 15 points, then cut backdoor and finished strong with a dunk. That capped off the pivotal 13-0 Wake run to open up a 53-47 lead for the Demon Deacons with just over four minutes remaining.
Beekman, who finished with six points and seven assists, scored a layup to finally stop the bleeding, but Virginia could not stop Wake Forest on the other end. Two more baskets by Williams extended the Wake lead to eight points.
Beekman then came away with a steal, but threw the ball away on the fast break, as Gardner dove into the courtside seats, but was unable to save the ball. Isaiah Mucius knocked down a mid-range jumper on Wake’s next possession to essentially ice the game and the Demon Deacons took down the Cavaliers for the first time since January 9th, 2013, snapping a nine-game losing streak in the series.
Virginia played stretches of good basketball on both ends of the floor in this one and even had 17 assists as a team. However, the scoring droughts and inability to stop Wake Forest’s balanced scoring (four players in double figures) at critical moments down the stretch ruined their chances to come away with a victory in what was a very winnable game for the Cavaliers.
With the loss, Virginia falls to 10-7 and 4-3 in ACC play. The Hoos have shown potential to become a good basketball team, but with every loss, their margin for error continues to dwindle, as do their hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth in March.
UVA looks to get back in the win column on the road at Pittsburgh on Wednesday at 9pm.