No. 7 Virginia edges Arizona State 48-45 in a highly contested game

The Cavaliers win the Air Force Reserve Hall of Fame Tip-Off after taking down the Sun Devils in a heated contest

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Freshman guard Casey Morsell ignited on offense, leading Virginia with 19 points and guiding the team to victory late in the game. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

No. 7 Virginia managed to come away with a 48-45 win against Arizona State in the final of the Air Force Reserve Hall of Fame Tip-Off Sunday. The Cavaliers (6-0, 1-0 ACC) held the lead against the Sun Devils (3-2, 0-0 Pac-12) through the first half, but had to fight their way back after a 19-0 run by Arizona State. Freshman guard Casey Morsell had his best game of the season, leading Virginia with 19 points and scoring the go-ahead three-pointer to give the Cavaliers the final advantage. 

While Arizona State snagged the jump-ball, senior forward Mamadi Diakite put Virginia on the board first with a quick three-pointer. From there, the Cavaliers held onto the lead while the Sun Devils managed to keep up. 

Virginia’s defense shut down Arizona State through the beginning of the first half as the Sun Devils fought tooth and nail to add points. The disruptive pack line forced turnovers and poor shots as the Cavaliers quickly went up 10-2 in the first six minutes of play. 

On the other end of the court, Virginia’s offense looked off its mark. The Cavaliers were unable to take advantage of three-point looks, shooting 4-for-9 from behind the arc in the first half.  Virginia also had trouble sinking easy points and was just 5-for-8 in layups. Regardless, the Cavaliers managed to hold onto their lead with strong defensive pressure. 

Morsell caught fire late in the first half, helping Virginia build its lead with 10 points, including six in the final three minutes. The freshman was 5-for-7 from the field, missing a pair of opportunities from behind the arc. 

Junior guard Remy Martin led Arizona State with 11 points in the first half and was 4-for-9 in field goals. In the final 30 seconds, Martin cut the Cavaliers’ 10-point advantage in half with a 5-0 run, and the Cavaliers led 26-21 heading into the break. 

Coming out of the half, the Sun Devils quickly jumped out to their first lead of the game, going on a 14-0 run to go up 35-26 as Virginia failed to respond. The Cavaliers’ defense had difficulties matching Arizona State’s transition speed, giving Martin space to continue his streak with eight points.

Senior guard Braxton Key finally ended the Sun Devils’ electric 19-0 run with a layup — just the first field goal in nine opportunities for the Cavaliers.

Leading 36-28, the Sun Devils increased defensive pressure as Virginia went on a 10-2 run to tie things up at 38. Diakite got hot at the perfect time for the Cavaliers and jumped into double-digit scoring to cut down Arizona State’s lead. 

The teams traded the lead through the remainder of the game. Morsell made the difference as the hot-hand, finding his groove late in the game and shooting a huge three to push Virginia ahead 48-45 with under a minute to go. 

With seconds left, the Cavaliers held onto the advantage to win 48-45 and remain undefeated on the season. 

Virginia still seems to be searching for shooting from behind the arc, sinking just 31 percent of its three-point shots Sunday. The team was similarly inefficient in field goals, finishing the game 18-for-49. It was clear that the Cavaliers’ weak offense had caught up to them when Arizona State went on its big 19-0 run beginning in the second half. However, Virginia still managed to stifle the Sun Devils’ offense with the pack line, keeping Arizona State under 50 points for the day.  

Virginia returns to John Paul Jones Arena Wednesday at 4 p.m. to host Maine.

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