#1 seed Virginia avoids scare, defeats #16 seed Gardner-Webb

uva basketball bear creekGardner-Webb led by as many as 14 points in the first half, and still led by six at halftime, and it was set to happen again: a #16 seed beating #1 Virginia.

This time, the ‘Hoos didn’t blink.

UVA held the Bulldogs to 20 points over a 25:47 stretch spanning the first and second half to turn things around en route to posting a 71-56 win.


Gardner-Webb (23-12) actually led by 14 at two different points in the first half, hitting 15 of its first 24 shots from the floor in the process.

Then the Cavaliers (30-3) turned the D on, holding the Bulldogs to a pair of threes in the final 6:52, as they cut into the margin to 36-30 at the halftime break.

Virginia came out of the locker room on a 14-2 run in the first 5:39 of the second half, taking its first lead of the game on a De’Andre Hunter and-one with 16:16 to go.

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Then, after a David Efianayi three, UVA went on an 11-0 run, capped by a Braxton Key three-pointer with 10:17 left that pushed the Cavaliers’ lead to 55-41.

The lead would remain in double-digits the rest of the way from there.

The key was defense: Gardner-Webb, after the hot start shooting, was just 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from the floor in the second half, with 12 turnovers.

The solid effort on D, in turn, fueled the Virginia offense. UVA actually shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, but eight first-half turnovers limited opportunities on the offensive end.

The stat book would tell you that the ‘Hoos had seven second-half turnovers, three of those came in garbage time.

A concerted effort to get the ball in the post resulted in big games for Hunter (23 points, 9-of-16 shooting) and Mamadi Diakite (17 points, 8-of-10 shooting).

Ty Jerome added 13 points and six assists for Virginia, which advances to face Oklahoma (20-13) in a second-round game on Sunday.

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

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