No. 4 men’s basketball cruises to victory over Coppin State, 97-40

The Cavaliers shoot 60 percent from three-point range in dominant victory

De'Andre Hunter

Sophomore guard De'Andre Hunter led all scorers with 20 points against Coppin State.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

No. 4 Virginia beat Coppin State 97-40, a game in which it never trailed. The scoreline marked the most points scored in a single game for Virginia during Coach Tony Bennett’s tenure and the program’s third largest margin of victory.

The Cavaliers (3-0) used stellar three-point shooting and defense to derail the Eagles (0-4). Virginia shot 60 percent from three-point range on the night, making 15 of 25 three-pointers.

The Cavaliers opened up the game hot, going up 7-0 within two minutes of tip-off. Coppin State responded quickly, making it 7-5 with 17:33 to go in the first half.

Virginia then went on a 14-0 run, opening the game up. Sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter was a big part of the scoring explosion, accounting for eight of the 14 points. Hunter led the Cavaliers in scoring in the first half with 11 points.

Coppin State showed some life, bouncing back with a 10-7 run and keeping the game within reach. The score was 28-15 Virginia with 4:54 to go in the half.

The Cavaliers, however, ended the half on an electric 17-2 run, putting the game out of reach. Freshman guard Kihei Clark played a big role in the run, making three three-pointers. Clark also played strong defense in the first half and received significant playing time, sitting for just 3:40 minutes in the half despite coming off the bench.

Junior guard Ty Jerome was another standout performer in the first half, finishing with eight points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals in the first frame.

Virginia went into halftime up 45-17. The Cavaliers shot 60.7 percent from the field, and held Coppin State to 25.9 percent shooting in the first half.

The Cavaliers continued their momentum to open up the second half, going on a 23-5 run to start the half. Hunter picked up right where he left off, making two three-pointers on the scoring run. The sophomore guard led all scorers with 20 points on the night, a season high. He finished a perfect 4-4 from three-point range, punctuating the run with a three on a beautiful find from Jerome.

“It was nice to see [Hunter] knock down some shots,” Bennett said. “It’s good to see the ball go through the hoop ... When he is a threat from three, the drive and the pull-ups open up.”

Hunter and Jerome left the game after the run, with the Cavaliers up 68-22 with 13 minutes left in the contest. Jerome finished with 11 points and six assists.

Virginia continued to expand its lead, led by the shooting stroke of junior forward Mamadi Diakite. Diakite, who started the game in place of senior center Jack Salt — who was out with back stiffness — finished with a career-high 18 points on 7-9 shooting. Diakite made two consecutive three pointers before coming out of the game with 6:57 left. Virginia was up 83-31.

“Before practice, Coach came and told me he wanted me to be very active on the ball, and I did what he asked,” Diakite said. “Offensively, I just let the game come to me.”

The Cavaliers’ finished things out well, holding Coppin State to just 40 points.

While Hunter and Diakite’s nights stood out most on the scoring front, junior guard Braxton Key also played a strong game, leading the Cavaliers in rebounding with seven, and junior guard Kyle Guy contributed nicely, with six rebounds and five assists.

Virginia showcased some of its young talent towards the end of the game, with freshman guard Kody Stattmann and sophomore guard Marco Anthony playing well towards the end. Stattmann had six points, the first of his Virginia career, and Anthony played great defense and had four assists.

Perhaps the highlight of the game, however, came from a player not even on the team’s official roster. Team manager Grant Kersey, who scored his first two points from the foul line last game against George Washington, made a three-pointer on the Cavaliers’ last offensive possession. The crowd at John Paul Jones Arena roared thunderously.

“It was great for Grant to knock that down, and I kept telling those guys to play the possessions instead of focusing on the score,” Bennett said. “He took that shot like he knew it was going in, and that was the loudest that I heard the crowd.”

Virginia is headed to the road for its next matchup Wednesday night, against Middle Tennessee in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament played in the Bahamas. The Cavaliers will face either Butler or Dayton in the second round of the tournament.

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