Men's basketball defeats Norfolk State, wins second straight
For the second time in as many games, sophomore guard Justin Anderson led the Virginia men’s basketball team to victory, recording a game-high 14 points and eight rebounds against Norfolk State. The Cavaliers never trailed in their 66-56 win against the Spartans, and enter their short holiday break on a two-game winning streak.
Anderson contributed to an early 7-0 Virginia (9-3) lead, putting the Cavaliers on the board with a mid-range jumper and then draining a 3-pointer. Virginia stretched its lead to 10 points multiple times in the first half, but Norfolk State cut the deficit to as few as four points and entered halftime down 32-26.
The Spartans capitalized on four Cavalier turnovers to open the second half, tying the game at 32 and prompting Virginia coach Tony Bennett to call a timeout just 2:23 into the period and sub in redshirt sophomore forward Anthony Gill, who did not play in the first half. Gill then spurred a 9-0 Virginia run in the span of three minutes, scoring five points and drawing four fouls — sending Norfolk State senior guard and leading scorer Malcolm Hawkins to the bench.
The Cavaliers would stretch their lead to 15 with eight minutes to play, and the Spartans never got closer than seven points. Senior guard Joe Harris finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Pendarvis Williams led Norfolk State with 12 points. Though Virginia got to the line 39 times — the most ever under Bennett — free-throw shooting still proved to be a concern, as the team made just 27 of its attempts for a meager 69.2 percent.
Senior forward Akil Mitchell also came off the bench after Bennett started a four-guard lineup for the second consecutive game. It was the first time since Jan. 19, 2012 that Mitchell did not start for the Cavaliers, and the senior responded with eight points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.
Virginia returns to practice Friday, Dec. 27. The team will travel to Knoxville Monday, Dec. 30 to face Tennessee at 7 p.m. in its last game before opening ACC play.