Men’s basketball edges out UNC-Wilmington in first round of NCAA Tournament
The No. 5 seed Virginia men’s basketball team pushed past its first round opponent, No. 12 seed UNC-Wilmington, to kick off NCAA Tournament action. The Cavaliers (23-10, 11-7 ACC) put together a comeback after trailing by as many as 15 points to overcome the Seahawks (29-6, 15-3 CAA).
The first half was one that Virginia likely wants to forget, as the Cavaliers fell into a hole due to inconsistent offensive play. However, Virginia mustered enough offensive firepower before the end of the half in order to go on a 16-1 run and enter the intermission with a slight 30-29 lead.
The Cavaliers had to do without junior forward Isaiah Wilkins for the entirety of the second half due to his sickness. His classmate, junior guard Marial Shayok, stepped up for Virginia offensively — scoring a career-high 23 points. Senior point guard London Perrantes also provided an offensive spark, chipping in 24 points. The Cavaliers got a major boost from the two guards and led by as many as 10 in the second half.
The Seahawks began to threaten Virginia late in the game, chipping away at the Cavaliers’ lead to make the score 67-64 with just under four minutes left. UNC-Wilmington threatened again with 1:18 left in the game with a three-pointer from senior guard Chris Flemmings — who led the Seahawks in scoring with 18 points — to make the score 71-69.
After a pair of free throws from junior guard Darius Thompson and a responding layup from Seahawk sophomore forward Devontae Cacok drew the score to 73-71, Shayok made a clutch jump shot to extend Virginia’s lead to 75-71. Perrantes made one final free throw with 14 seconds left in the game to push the score to 76-71 — punching Virginia’s ticket to the Round of 32.
Virginia will play No. 4 seed Florida in Orlando, Fla. Saturday. Tipoff time will be determined at the conclusion of today’s games.
Editor's note: The article was updated to reflect the result of the game between No. 4 seed Florida and No. 13 seed East Tennessee State University.