Story by Scott German
Mamadi Diane scored 20 points while Sean Singletary had 19 points and 10 assists Saturday night as Virginia broke a three-game losing streak beating Boston College 84-66 in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
The Cavaliers (11-5, 1-2 ACC), defending co-champions in the conference, got a crucial win after two blowout losses and a heartbreaker at the buzzer with Virginia Tech left them in desperate need of a victory.
Against the Eagles, a number of Cavaliers’ stepped up offensively to compliment another spectacular performance by Singletary. Adrian Joseph and Calvin Baker each recorded double-digit scoring efforts for Virginia, which finished 29 of 67 from the floor.
Leading by one at 40-39 at the 18-minute mark of the second half, UVa. went on an 11-0 run over a three-minute span to open a commanding 51-39 bulge. This time, unlike their previous outing against the Hokies, Virginia maintained a working margin the remainder of the game to seal the win.
Virginia coach Dave Leitao in the postgame press conference suggested that maybe a kinder, more gentle Dave Leitao in practice the past few days may have helped his team. “It really starts with me, a smile here and there, a bit less barking, I think it helped the players loosen up a bit,” said Leitao.
The strong effort by Virginia was at both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers took control of the game before Tyrese Rice, a Richmond native (L.C. Bird) and the conference’s second-leading scorer, could get untracked. Rice finished with 20 points, with 14 second-half points after BC had fallen behind by 15 and came no closer than eight.
Rice said Virginia did an excellent job of denying him the ball. “I had trouble all game even getting to the ball, they made it very tough to get any type of decent shot off,” noted Rice, who at times noticeably was forcing his shots. When some of Rice’s shots did find the net, he scored nine points in just over three minutes to pull BC within eight at 60-52 at the nine-minute mark.
Singletary then stepped up by scoring on an electrifying driving layup, canned two free throws and fed Joseph for a baseline dunk completing a mini 6-0 run as Virginia bolted back out to a commanding, never challenged 66-52 lead.
An appreciative John Paul Jones Arena crowd over just over 14,000 gave the Cavaliers a loud ovation as the final buzzer sounded. An ovation loud enough that hopefully the team can carry with them to Tallahassee Wednesday night in a matchup with Florida State.
Scott German is a SportsDominion correspondent.