No. 17 Virginia rolling ahead of matchup with Irish
No. 17 Virginia is back in top form as it heads into the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The second-seeded Cavaliers (23-7, 15-5 ACC) have won eight consecutive games and 11 of their past 12 entering a Thursday night quarterfinal clash with seventh-seeded Notre Dame (20-12, 10-10) in Greensboro, N.C.
The Fighting Irish advanced with an 80-58 victory over Boston College in Wednesday's second-round action.
Virginia is 9-2 in games decided by four or fewer points, including a 50-49 overtime win against the Fighting Irish on Feb. 11. All of the Cavaliers' past five games were decided by three points or fewer, and Virginia won each time.
Notre Dame posted its lowest point total of the season in the Feb. 11 loss to the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Va., despite playing five extra minutes of OT.
Virginia's Braxton Key made a tiebreaking free throw with 2:04 left, the last point scored by either side on a poor shooting night for both teams. The Cavaliers hit 37.3 percent from the field and 25 percent (5 of 20) from 3-point range while the Irish shot 32.8 percent overall and 23.1 percent (6 of 21) from deep.
Mamadi Diakite was the only Cavalier to score in double figures, finishing with 20 points. Kihei Clark added nine points, Key collected 12 rebounds, and Jay Huff chipped in eight points and nine boards.
Prentiss Hubb paced the Irish with 12 points. John Mooney notched a double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds), and Nate Laszewski scored 11 points off the bench.
The 7-foot-1 Huff blocked Mooney's layup attempt in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime, where the Irish were held scoreless for the final 3 1/2 minutes.
"Give credit to Virginia," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said afterward. "Again, they're really hard to score against, and we had a couple possessions down the stretch where they just kind of shut us down, and it's kind of hard to run your stuff."
Mooney had one of his worst shooting nights of the season, finishing 4 of 14 from the field and 0 of 5 from long distance.
"He's a heck of a player," Huff said. "To hold him to 11 points ... we take great pride in that. The way we play defense, very rarely is it one person locking someone up."
The Cavaliers are trying to reach the ACC semifinals for the sixth time in seven years. They lost to Florida State in the semifinals last season before reeling off six straight NCAA Tournament wins to capture the school's first national championship.
"This year's team, it's their year, it's their team. It's not last year's team," said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who urged his players to "try to lay it on the line and forget about what the outside is or even the internal of trying to live up to something that is not yours. 'This is our year. This is our time. Let's max out.' "
Notre Dame has a 10-5 record in the ACC tournament since joining the league in 2013-14, winning it all in Greensboro in 2015 and losing to Duke in the 2017 title game.
"We're obviously not done yet," said Mooney, who was named to the All-ACC first team on Monday. "We're still on a mission."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 12, 2020