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No. 9 men’s basketball downs Stony Brook 56-44

The Cavaliers pulled away from the Seawolves late, as junior forward Jay Huff scored eight points in the final 10 minutes

<p>Redshirt freshman center Francisco Caffaro started for the first time in his career Wednesday</p>

Redshirt freshman center Francisco Caffaro started for the first time in his career Wednesday

No. 9 men’s basketball defeated Stony Brook 56-44 Wednesday night in the second game of a five-game home stretch. The Cavaliers (9-1, 2-0 ACC) never allowed the Seawolves (7-6, 0-0 America East) to take the lead, forcing 17 turnovers along the way. 

Virginia started off the game strong, embarking on a 14-2 run in the first 5:42 of the game and tallying three steals. However, as Stony Brook tried to force the Cavaliers into outside shots by transitioning to a zone defense, the Seawolves went on a run of their own, scoring seven straight points. 

As both teams settled into the game, missed shots were the norm as it became a battle in the defensive trenches. Notably, Virginia was able to quell Stony Brook junior guard Elijah Olaniyi, limiting the 18.5 points per game scorer to just six points while forcing three turnovers in the first half. 

The two teams continued to fight for baskets in the final ten minutes of the half, but Seawolves sophomore guard Miles Latimer hit a three-pointer with a second left to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 28-21— sending Stony Brook into the locker rooms with the momentum. 

Seawolves out-shot and out-rebounded Virginia in the first-half, converting 43 percent of their field goals to the Cavaliers’ 39 percent and grabbing 16 rebounds to Virginia’s 14. However, turnovers plagued the Seawolves throughout the first 20 minutes, as Virginia converted 11 Stony Brook turnovers into 10 points. 

The two teams started out the second-half firing, as sophomore guard Kihei Clark and Olaniyi traded three-point buckets to cap off 12 total points in the first 2:11. Nevertheless, in the following eight minutes, the Seawolves’ zone and the Cavaliers’ Pack Line stifled the teams’ offenses once more, as the teams combined for just 11 points. 

Virginia entered the final 10 minutes of the game still holding a slim 38-33 advantage over Stony Brook, and extended its lead to seven with two free-throws by junior forward Jay Huff. Looking to catch the Cavaliers napping, the Seawolves continued to push the pace, leading to a transition three-pointer from Stony Brook junior guard Makale Foreman to inch the Seawolves closer at 40-36. 

However, junior guard Tomas Woldetensae responded with a banked-in three-pointer, sparking a 14-4 run for the Cavaliers that featured a huge alley-oop in transition from Clark to sophomore guard Kody Stattmann. Woldetensae capped off the run with another three, putting Virginia up 54-40 with 3:13 to play. 

In a game that was close on the score-sheet for much of the night but saw the Cavaliers respond to challenge after challenge from the Seawolves, Virginia defeated Stony Brook 56-44. Clark was outstanding for the Cavaliers, scoring 14 points and tallying five rebounds and six assists while Huff and senior forward Mamadi Diakite scored 12 and 13 points, respectively. 

“I thought when we needed some big plays, Mamadi and Kihei came up with them,” Coach Tony Bennett said. “They made the plays when they needed to, and … two of our most experienced players need to continue to do that and lead to the best of their abilities.”

Of note, senior guard Braxton Key returned from a wrist injury he suffered against Arizona State, playing seven minutes in a cast on his left, non-shooting hand. Key — who has averaged 7.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season — is an important asset to the Cavaliers, as they have struggled to fill his role in his absence. 

Virginia will look for their tenth win of the season against South Carolina this afternoon afternoon in Charlottesville. Tip-off was at 4:00 p.m. and the game is broadcasted live on ABC.