RICHMOND--This time, when the game reached overtime, the Cavaliers got it right.
The Virginia men's basketball team overcame a frenzied charge by Virginia Tech and emerged with a hard-fought 71-66 victory over a very determined squad of Hokies last night at the Richmond Coliseum.
The win came 19 days after Duke defeated Virginia 109-100 in the only other overtime game for the Cavs this season.
"We knew we had the bodies to do it [in overtime] and it was rich to get it done," Cav forward Chris Williams said.
Once again, Donald Hand came up big in the clutch for the Cavaliers. Hand started the Virginia scoring in overtime by driving to the lane and drawing contact to convert on the three-point play, giving the Cavs a 63-62 advantage.
The Hokies' last, best chance to take the lead came on a three-point attempt by guard Brian Chase from the right corner. But the shot clanked, Cav center Travis Watson got the rebound and dished off to Hand who was immediately fouled.
Hand drained both free throws with 12.9 seconds to go and nailed another pair with 3.4 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
Hand finished with a game-high 21 points, seven of which came in overtime.
"Confidence was the difference," Hand said. "I'm just glad the team stuck together and we had confidence in one another."
The Cav win came after escaping a perilous situation late in the second half. Virginia came out strong to start the second stanza, and held a 53-41 advantage with 11:45 to go. But the Hokies responded with a 13-0 run to take the lead at 54-53 with 5:20 left in regulation.
The Hokies held a 60-56 edge with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, and seemed poised to upend the Cavs. But a jumper by Virginia swingman Roger Mason in the lane cut the Tech lead to two, and Williams took the feed from Hand and tied the game at 60 to put it into overtime.
"The overtime was like a second chance for us," Hand said. "I'm just glad the younger guys came in and responded."
Four Cavaliers finished the game scoring in double figures. Besides Hand, Mason had 13, Adam Hall contributed 12 and Williams added 11.
Virginia's usually potent offense struggled in long stretches against the Hokies, most notably during Tech's 13-0 run where the Cavs were held scoreless for almost nine-and-a-half minutes.
"They did a lot" to stop us, Virginia Coach Pete Gillen said. "They played good pressure defense, they were aggressive, physical. They took us out of a lot of things."
The Cavs also suffered from a sluggish start, committing turnovers on each of their first three possessions and allowing the Hokies to leap out to an early 8-3 lead.
"They hit us early and rung our bell," Gillen said.
Virginia's six-day layoff didn't help matters as the Cavs attempted to regain some of the intensity they showed in last Tuesday's win over then-No. 21 North Carolina.
"It's really hard to keep that same intensity for six days," Watson said.
Although playing with a sprained ankle that kept him out of practice all week, Watson showed intensity of his own during Virginia's win, scoring six points and grabbing a team-high 10 boards.
"The fact he got 10 rebounds playing banged up is a credit to his courage," Gillen said.