CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – No. 22 Virginia (23-7, 15-5 ACC) closed the regular season with a 57-54 win over No. 10 Louisville (24-7, 15-5 ACC) on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at John Paul Jones Arena.
Three players scored in double-figures, led by Kihei Clark (Woodland Hill, Calif.) with 18 points. Mamadi Diakite (Conakry, Guinea) had 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Jay Huff (Durham, N.C.) added 11 points with two blocks.
Virginia shot 41.3 percent and held Louisville to 37.3 percent shooting. The Cardinals had a 31-30 edge in rebounds. Virginia converted 15-of-20 free throws and had just nine turnovers in the game.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Diakite and Braxton Key (Charlotte, N.C.) each scored to begin Senior Day and give UVA a 4-0 lead. Louisville surged ahead with a 14-2 run to lead 16-8 at the 11:11 mark in the first half. The Cardinals were up 20-13 when UVA went on a 7-0 run to tie the game 20-20. Diakite hit a jumper and Clark added a three that gave Virginia the lead back. The Cavaliers scored the final six points of the half to lead 31-24 at halftime.
Virginia continued its run in the second half, with Clark and Diakite scoring to make it a 35-24 lead. The Cavaliers remained in control and took their largest lead, 43-29, with Tomas Woldetensae (Bologna, Italy) hit a three with 13:20 to play. Louisville climbed back into the game and eventually tied it up after a 16-4 run that included four threes. Neither team scored for three minutes until Virginia converted a free throw and Clark hit a three to make it 55-51 with 28 seconds to go. Diakite hit a couple of free throws before a Louisville three with 0.3 seconds as UVA took the win.
THE GAME BALL GOES TO
Kihei Clark hit a the three that gave UVA a four-point lead with 28 seconds left and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He also dished out five assists.
No. 2 Seed Virginia (23-7) will play No. 7 Seed Notre Dame (19-12) or No. 10 Seed Boston College (13-18) in the ACC quarterfinals on Thursday, March 12. Tipoff at Greensboro Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN/2.
• UVA has won 15 or more ACC games for the fifth time in school history
• UVA has an eight-game winning streak and has won 10 of its last 11 games
• UVA has 23 or more wins for the eighth consecutive season
• The Cavaliers have won eight straight games on Senior Day at JPJ
• Tomas Woldetensae had a career-high four steals
• Clark scored 11 points in the first half
• Diakite has 997 career points
• Clark (5 assists) moved into seventh on UVA’s single-season list with 177
On where team is heading into postseason:
“I think we’ve improved. We were really close when we were losing, and we’re still really close when we’re winning. We’ve just improved a little bit. I think we had a nice defensive outing today. I think with the emergence, for that stretch, of Tomas [Woldetensae], although he didn’t shoot as well today, his improved play, Jay [Huff] has stepped up I think Mamadi [Diakite] and Kihei [Clark] have been very good and Braxton [Key]. I just think guys have just moved the needle a little bit and it’s been enough. We know what our lifeline is, trying to be as good as we can defensively, and we had good stretches of offense today. You hope you’re always healthy, and you’re playing sound quality basketball heading into to the ACC tournament and, obviously, the NCAA Tournament as well.”