Monday, February 06, 2006

Cavs fall to Maryland

The electric first ten minutes could not equal the disasterous last ten minutes.

The Virginia Cavaliers came into the Comcast Center hoping to pick up a big road win and help their NCAA profile. Virginia looked to avoid a slow start, like their last two road games and they were anything but cold. Virginia hit threes and jumpers like they were free. They got every rebound and the Terps looked completely outclassed. At 24-10 UVA would hold it's biggest lead and looked like Virginia might just win its first game outside of the state of Virginia.

Maryland was not to be denied, they heated up and started to put on some pressure at the defensive end. Travis Garrison, a senior, provided a spark off the bench and Maryland closed the gap to 5. Virginia ended the half in style though, instead of folding they went on a late run and reached halftime with a 38-30 lead.

The second half was not what the Cavaliers wanted. They were able to maintain a comfortable lead for the first bit, but not easily. J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary were mired by foul trouble. When both got four personals fouls, Virginia was in big trouble. Neither player could be as aggressive on offense or defense. The other players did not respond and Maryland capitalized. The Terps took their first lead of the game 53-51 with less than 8 minutes to go. Nevertheless, Virginia held on to tie it at 60-60 with 3:09 left. In the end, the Cavaliers just couldn't get it done. Foul trouble and suspect calls aside, Virginia shot an abysmal 9-32 in the second half. I might not have agreed with every call, but adversity is part of the game. While Leitao's squad has met every challenge this year, they did not handle this game like they should have. The 76-65 loss is not indicative of the game itself.

Virginia had another impressive performance by Jason Cain, who grabbed his 6th double-double on the year with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Singletary and Reynolds continued their stellar play, even if both were mired by foul trouble. Both men contributed 18 points each. Adrian Joseph had 8 points early but could never add on to his total when Virginia needed players to step up.

The Terps had four men in double figures with D.J. Strawberry's 19 points leading the way. The best performance was by Ekene Ibewe whose 14 points, 15 rebounds all but assured the victory. The victory was big too for it allowed head coach Gary Williams to pass Lefty Drisell for the most wins at Maryland. It was an emotional moment for the coach, and who better to beat than one of his main rivals. Problem is, that's exactly what the Cavaliers did not need.

The loss puts Virginia to 11-9, 5-5 ACC the NCAA pipe dream takes a big hit, but still NIT postseason aspirations are pretty legitimate and amazing considering preseason expectations. The Terps keep their NCAA hopes alive at 15-7, 5-4 ACC. They should be going to the "Big Dance" but their is alot of basketball yet to be played. Next up for Virginia are the Hokies of Virginia Tech. UVA won 54-49 in their first meeting but much has changed for both teams since then. The Hokies misfortunes earlier this year have subsided a bit and they are now 3-7 in the ACC after starting 0-6. Despite that terrible start, VT would only be one game behind UVA if they win on Saturday. Also the Hokies have found a new contributor in A.D. Vassallo. Virginia needs T.J. Bannister. They need his experience. They need him to give Sean Singletary a rest every 35 minutes or so. His reaggravation of an injury has cost UVA, they are 1-3 without him in this new stretch, the one win a very close one against Wake Forest. The season is not over, but it'll come to a close sooner than Virginia wants if Bannister cannot get back on the court.


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