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ACC Men’s Basketball: Cavaliers defense smothers Terps

U.VA. DENIES MARYLAND CLEAR

SHOTS IN EARNING NEEDED ACC VICTORY

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

Two straight road losses threatened to derail the University of Virginia’s hopes to reach the NCAA tournament.

The Cavaliers suffered double-digit Atlantic Coast Conference setbacks to North Carolina and Clemson within a four-day span.

The broken bone in sophomore guard Joe Harris’ left hand was also cause for concern because he’s their second-leading scorer.

Virginia appeared to be a wounded bunch heading into its pivotal ACC contest against rival Maryland on Saturday.

But its stingy defense returned in the second half against the Terrapins, as the No. 22 Cavaliers cruised to a 71–44 victory in front of 14,101 at John Paul Jones Arena.

Virginia (20–6, 7–5 ACC) held Maryland to 13 second-half points as the Terrapins (15–11, 5–7) suffered their most lopsided loss to the Cavaliers since 1989.

“The mental toughness on the defensive end just wasn’t there the last couple of games,” Virginia junior guard Jontel Evans said. “But today we came out with the mindset that we had to be tough and aggressive on the defensive end. “We knew we had to impose our will, and that’s what we did.”

Virginia did the job offensively, as well.

Senior forward Mike Scott scored a game-high 25 points to help the Cavaliers reach 20 wins for the first time since 2007. Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said Scott was “on fire” early in the game from the outside, but he also took advantage of the Terrapins in the paint with post-up moves.

“Everybody knows we need him to produce,” Bennett said, “and he did.”

Freshman guard Malcolm Brogdon added 14 points off the bench, while senior guard Sammy Zeglinski (11 points) scored in double-figures for the first time in six games. Harris has been clearly affected by his injury, but he added six points, including back-to-back jumpers to start a 16–0 run that put the Terrapins away early in the second half.

“It’s good to have Malcolm, Sammy and Joe all contributing,” Scott said. “I don’t have to score every time. It’s getting back to how it was before Joe got hurt.”

Maryland went on an 11–0 run to take a 26–24 lead on sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin’s 3-pointer late in the first half. Freshman guard Nick Faust added a 3 with time running out in the half to tie the game at 31 heading into intermission. Maryland scored the first points of the second half on junior forward James Padgett’s layup.

After that, however, it was all Virginia.

The Cavaliers forced Maryland first-year coach Mark Turgeon to call two 30-second timeouts in a span of one minute, three seconds as their lead continued to grow.

“They turned it up another gear,” Maryland senior guard Sean Mosley said, “and we sunk down to the bottom.”

The Terrapins shot just 27 percent from the field in their worst loss this season. They had just three assists, and Stoglin, the leading scorer in the ACC, was held scoreless in the second half after tallying 14 first-half points.

Turgeon said the game is the team’s low-point this season. He said it reminds him of a 26-point loss to Iona in Puerto Rico the fourth game of the season. He called the second-half on Saturday “total domination.”

“I thought we looked disinterested in terms of being tough on defense and rebounding and our execution was poor,” Turgeon said. “Give them credit; they guarded the heck out of us.”

The Cavaliers now turn their attention to a rematch with Virginia Tech on Tuesday at 9 p.m. in Blacksburg.

The Hokies handed Virginia its only home loss this season, 47–45.

It’s a bit of a role reversal from last year when the then-struggling Cavaliers helped keep Virginia Tech out of the NCAA tournament field with two victories.

“They gave us our only home loss, and got their first ACC win [this season] against us,” Scott said of the Hokies. “We can’t lose to Tech.”

    MARYLAND (15–11)

    Susskind 0-0 0-0 0, Faust 5-12 1-2 13, Weijs 0-0 0-0 0, Parker 1-4 0-0 3, Stoglin 4-17 2-2 14, Richmond 0-1 0-0 0, Mosley 0-4 2-2 2, Barks 0-1 0-0 0, Dillard 1-1 0-1 2, Auslander 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas 0-0 0-1 0, Len 0-2 0-0 0, Pankey 1-4 2-4 4, Padgett 2-5 2-4 6. Totals 14-52 9-16 44.

    VIRGINIA (20–6)

    Browman 1-1 0-0 3, Evans 1-4 2-2 4, Jesperson 1-2 0-0 3, Vozenilek 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 3-7 0-0 6, Zeglinski 3-7 3-4 11, An. Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0, Brogdon 5-6 2-2 14, Scott 10-20 5-5 25, Ak. Mitchell 1-5 1-2 3, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Atkins 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-54 13-15 71

    Halftime—Tied 31-31. 3-Point Goals–Maryland 7-19 (Stoglin 4-9, Faust 2-5, Parker 1-2, Len 0-1, Auslander 0-1, Mosley 0-1), Virginia 6-10 (Brogdon 2-2, Zeglinski 2-5, Browman 1-1, Jesperson 1-1, Harris 0-1). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–Maryland 35 (Pankey 8), Virginia 36 (Ak. Mitchell 10). Assists—Maryland 3 (Mosley, Pankey, Parker 1), Virginia 9 (Evans 4). Total Fouls—Maryland 17, Virginia 14. A—14,101.

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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