Virginia closes season with 75-64 loss to Iowa in NIT

uva-logo-new2Virginia had two chances to win games at home that would have sent the Cavs to Madison Square Garden. Wednesday’s 75-64 loss to Iowa in the NIT quarterfinals made them 0-for-2.

Roy Devyn Marble scored 24 points, and the Hawkeyes shot 49.1 percent from the field en route to breaking open a tight game in the latter stages of the second half.

“I think they wore us down,” UVa. coach Tony Bennett said after the loss, which broke the Cavs’ 19-game home winning streak, which began after a home loss to Delaware in November that knocked Virginia out of the Preseason NIT in the quarterfinal round.

Iowa came out of the gates strong, leading 21-11 midway through the first half before a 12-2 Virginia run tied the game at 23 on a Justin Anderson three-pointer at the 5:38 mark.

A Joe Harris three just before the buzzer pulled the ‘Hoos to within 31-28 at the break, and the teams traded the lead back-and-forth for the first seven minutes of the second half. A three by Marble at the 13:05 mark gave Iowa a 42-41 lead, and as it turned out, the Hawkeyes would not trail again.

That basket triggered an extended 19-5 run that left Iowa up 58-46 at 5:20 on a three-pointer by Zach McCabe. Virginia would twice cut the lead to nine points after that, but would get no closer.

Anderson closed the game with a career-high 24 points on 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range. Anderson also had five blocked shots and three steals in 35 minutes.

“We had so much on the line, with it being the seniors’ last game and a home winning streak, it made me realize what we were really playing for. You have to experience these things to know what true joy feels like in the end,” Anderson said after the game.

Fellow freshman Mike Tobey had 15 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. First-team All-ACC guard Joe Harris had another subpar game, scoring 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field.

“Joe’s got an important offseason. He’s got to work to get better,” Bennett said of his star. “I think there’s tremendous wisdom when you struggle. Joe carried a big load all year, and I think he looked worn down at the end and didn’t play his best basketball the last few games.”

Virginia ended its season on a down note after posting a 73-68 win over Duke in Charlottesville on Feb. 28 that had the prognosticators pegging the ‘Hoos as a surefire NCAA Tournament team. Losses in two of their final three games to close out the regular season, then a blistering loss in the ACC Tournament to N.C. State, relegated UVa. to the NIT, which Bennett and his squad decided to use as a building block for next season.

“To play in these settings, to play in a pressure setting in a tournament, and to be able to win a couple games, I think was good,” Bennett said. “For our younger guys to play and to show the signs that they did in this setting was good. To have a chance to try to get to Madison Square Garden, playing in the pressure setting and to be in those situations is very positive. I take that as great opportunity, great experiences for us.

“Playing teams that are real tough is kind of a gut check, and you realize this is what tournament basketball, desperately trying to advance to something significant, what you need to bring and how it has to be done. There’s some wisdom in that to motivate us to work really hard in the off-season,” Bennett said.


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