Home Virginia shows impressive offensive versatility in win over Boston College

Virginia shows impressive offensive versatility in win over Boston College

Scott German
reece beekman
Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia’s 76-57 win over Boston College Saturday at John Paul Jones Arena represented yet another reason the Cavaliers are legit.

They can struggle putting the ball in the basket and still find ways to win.

Yes, that’s called versatility.

Virginia struggled from shooting beyond the arc, finishing just 6-of-21, after a 2-of-11 first-half start, which broke the trend that had catapulted the Cavaliers to five consecutive wins.

But this season, the Cavaliers have proven, game after game, that they aren’t a one-trick pony. Boston College head coach Earl Grant summed up Virginia offensively after the game, saying “they are like a slow drip.”

This season, unlike some past UVA squads, they can whip you playing your game, and they can whip you playing their game. And that was abundantly on display in the convincing win over BC.

Today, when the bucket was coming up empty on the three-point well for Virginia, the Cavaliers simply found the holes in the BC defense, and turned to the midrange shooting of Jayden Gardner, who not so quietly dispelled rumors of his demise with his most solid effort of the season.

Gardner finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds, on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor.

“This team has a fine balance. When things aren’t going well, we just go inside and go to the other well,” said Gardner.

Four Cavaliers reached double digits: Armaan Franklin also had 18 for Virginia (6-of-13 from the floor) while guard Isaac McKneely came off the bench to score 12, and Reece Beekman added 11 points and eight assists.

McKneely continued his hot shooting, making 5-of-8 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc.

Defensively, Virginia forced 16 BC turnovers and converted them into 14 points.

Early on, Virginia played like a team that hadn’t played in a week. Thanks to two separate scoring runs, one in each half, the Cavaliers were able to keep BC at bay for most of the game.

At about the midway point of the second half Boston College whittled the margin down to nine, but UVA went on a 15-4 run to push the lead to 20. Franklin scored the first five points of the spurt, on an inbounds dunk and then nailing a three from the center of the arc.

Back to BC’s head coach Bruce Earl, who I caught up with after the game. “Like I said, it’s a slow drip. We cut the deficit to nine, I thought, OK, we are still in this. But then, whoa, three or four straight threes, and that’s the ballgame,” said Earl.

The initial Virginia run came after trailing 21-17 at the 10-minute mark of the first half, before UVA took control with an 18-6 run.

First-year Ryan Dunn gave energy to the run and the building with two demonstrative dunks, a steal and a basket-saving block in about five minutes.

Dunn’s first dunk came on a rebound put-back that ignited the JPJ gathering. Moments later, he soared to the basket on an alley-oop pass from Beeckman, slamming the ball home to push the Virginia lead to 26-21 with just over eight minutes left in the opening half.

After the game Dunn was asked to explain the communication between him and Beekman on the flush.

“I just kind of looked at (Beekman), he looked at me, and I just threw one of these up,” Dunn said, pointing his finger toward the ceiling.

“He threw a great pass,” said Dunn.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.