COLUMBIA, S.C. (WWBT) - Down 14 in the first half to Gardner-Webb, UVA players admitted to a “here we go again” feeling creeping into their minds, but the difference between last year and this season, according to junior guard Kyle Guy, is that the Cavaliers didn’t panic.
Virginia used a 30-5 run to come from behind and pull away, rolling past the Bulldogs, 71-56, and punching it ticket to the second round.
Gardner-Webb looked upset-minded at the beginning, opening up a 30-16 lead with 6:42 remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs would hold a 36-25 advantage with 2:36 left in the frame, but that’s when the Wahoos turned it on.
After trimming the deficit to 36-30 by halftime, UVA came out firing in the second half. De’Andre Hunter scored 10 points in a six minute span, and Mamadi Diakite hit some timely shots early in the half, helping the Cavaliers to the lead. Virginia had swelled its cushion to 71-50 with 3:14 to play in the game.
Hunter finished with a game-high 23 points in his NCAA Tournament debut, after missing last year’s big dance with a wrist injury. He also added six rebounds. Diakite chipped in 17 points and nine boards, while Ty Jerome contributed 13 points and six assists.
Virginia dominated Gardner-Webb on the glass, out-rebounding the Bulldogs, 35-21, and scoring 19 second chance points to GWU’s five.
UVA, of course, became the first number one seed to lose to a 16 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, falling to UMBC.
The Cavaliers will face Oklahoma on Sunday in the round of 32. The Sooners rolled to a dominating win over Mississippi, 95-72, in the first game of the day in Columbia. A tip-off time will be announced shortly after Friday’s games have concluded.
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