CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The Cavaliers (10-6, 3-2 ACC) held Virginia Tech (8-7, 0-4 ACC) scoreless in the in the final 3:13 and the Hokies missed a pair of potential game-winning 3-pointers on their final trip down the floor as Virginia held on to win 54-52 in the Commonwealth Clash presented by Smithfield at John Paul Jones Arena Wednesday night. Coming off the bench, UVA center Francisco Caffaro scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to lead the Cavaliers to victory.
Armaan Franklin (15 points) and Reece Beekman (11 points) also scored in double figures for Virginia. The Cavalier defense forced a dozen Virginia Tech turnovers, which turned into 14 points on the opposite end of the floor. Virginia, which concluded the night with 18 bench points, also held the Hokies’ non-starters to just two points.
With the win, the Cavaliers earned 0.5 points in the Commonwealth Clash standings. However, Virginia Tech currently leads the overall standings 3.0 to 1.5.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Hokies led 9-7 before UVA embarked on a 10-0 run midway through the first half. During the run, both Caffaro and Franklin tallied five straight points apiece during the run. Virginia Tech responded with an 11-2 run of its own to regain the lead, 20-19, with 6:06 remaining. The Cavaliers closed out the half by scoring six of the last nine points to hold a 25-23 advantage at the break. Caffaro pulled down six rebounds, including four offensive boards in the first 20 minutes of play. Franklin led all Virginia scorers with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 1-for-2 from behind the arc.
Both teams were neck-and-neck throughout the second half, which saw 10 lead changes, as neither team led by more than four points. Virginia orchestrated three 6-0 runs in the second half, while the Hokies’ best run was five points. Virginia Tech hit its final field goal of the contest at the 3:14 mark after which UVA held the Hokies to without a point down the stretch. The Cavaliers were whistled for a shot clock violation with 38 seconds to play before Caffaro found himself one-on-one with the game’s leading scorer, Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma (22 points, 9-20 FG) as the clock ticked under the 20-second mark. Caffaro was able to hold his ground as Aluma lost his balance driving towards the basket and was called for a traveling violation. Following the Virginia Tech turnover, Kihei Clark (6 points) was immediately fouled, which sent him to the line for a 1-and-1. Clark made his first attempt, but missed the backend of the 1-and-1, which allowed the Hokies to cross midcourt and call a timeout with 9.3 seconds remaining. Virginia Tech got a clean look at a 3-point attempt with five seconds remaining, but the ball bounced high off the back of the rim and ultimately ricocheted back beyond the arc at which point Hokies guard Storm Murphy let one last 3-point attempt fly, but it kicked off the front of the rim as time expired.
THE GAME BALL GOES TO:
Francisco Caffaro. The UVA big man notched career highs in both points (16) and rebounds (9), finishing just one rebound shy of what would have been his first career double-double. Utilizing his positioning and size down low, Caffaro shot a game-high 10 free throws, knocking down six of them, while the Hokies combined to shoot only three attempts at the line. The native of Argentina also had the tough assignment of guarding Aluma, who finished with a game-high 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting.
Virginia hosts Wake Forest (13-3, 3-2 ACC) on Saturday, Jan. 15. Tipoff at John Paul Jones Arena is set for 4:30 p.m. on Regional Sports Networks.