Kihei Clark planted his feet just left of the top of the key. He stopped and tossed a lob toward the rim, intending to find a cutting Jay Huff for an easy alley-oop.
Instead, the ball just went in.
“I went up to catch it, and I almost thought, ‘Wait, did I dunk that?” Huff said. “No. It was kind of cool. We’ll take it. I would love to see the replay of that one.”
The good fortunes were a sign of things to come.
Virginia beat Boston College, 78-65, on Tuesday night, knocking down 10 3-pointers en route to a season-high 78 points. Five Virginia players finished with at least 10 points.
Clark’s trey was one of seven first-half 3-pointers from the Cavaliers (18-7, 10-5 ACC). While the point guard’s bucket was lucky, the other six were quality looks.
Huff started the game on fire, scoring eight of Virginia’s first 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Tomas Woldetensae joined in on the action, knocking down three triples of his own to score 11 first-half points.
While the Cavaliers found offensive flow and shot well for most of the half, the Eagles kept pace until the final five minutes of the half. Led by three made 3-pointers, Virginia went on a 13-4 run in the final 4:20 of the first half.
The run began on a 3-pointer from Woldetensae to give Virginia a 25-19 lead with 4:19 remaining. After Nik Popovic scored for the Eagles, Mamadi Diakite added a dunk on the other end. Both teams traded layups before Woldetensae missed a 3-pointer and Braxton Key snatched an offensive rebound. He quickly tossed it back out to Woldetensae, who took another 3-pointer.
This one connected.
The final bucket came on a Huff 3-pointer at the top of the key that swished gracefully through the hoop. It punctuated Virginia’s highest-scoring first half of ACC action. The Cavaliers led 35-23 heading into the break.
Boston College, which was without leading scorer Derryck Thornton, who was a late scratch with back spasms, fought back in the opening minutes of the second half. A jumper by Jairus Hamilton cut the lead to 45-39 with 14:45 remaining, as the Eagles opened the half outscoring Virginia 16-10.
With the Eagles hitting shots, the Cavaliers responded with a 6-0 run by Key. The final two buckets of the run featured a pair of beautiful assists from Clark. The point guard, who struggled with foul trouble but played well when on the floor, was bumped on the first assist as he drove toward the rim on the baseline. He took the contact, jumped out of bounds and found Key on a wraparound pass.
On the next assist, Clark once again weaved through the defense to find Key, this time for a dunk. Boston College head coach Jim Christian called timeout, as fans in JPJ Arena gave a standing ovation to their Cavaliers. Virginia led 51-39 with 12:47 remaining.
Boston College failed to get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Key played point forward when Clark was off the court with fouls, and finished with 17 points on seven field goals.
“The guys were joking at halftime, ‘Hey, what do you need LeBron? What do you need LeBron?” Virginia coach Tony Bennett laughed. “I’m like, ‘It’s halftime. Everybody relax,’ but Braxton did a really nice job.”
The one negative on the night came when Casey Morsell went down with a right leg injury with 7:02 left in the game. The freshman guard hit the floor on the defensive end and needed help walking off the court. He spent a minute or two on Virginia’s bench with trainers before they ushered him back to the locker room.
With Morsell getting looked at, the Cavaliers kept hitting shots. They went on a 9-0 run to open up a 70-50 lead with 5:22 remaining. The run finished on a Kody Stattmann 3-pointer from the corner. The sophomore buried his second 3-pointer to give Virginia 10 on the night.
“They’re playing really, really well,” Christian said. “They really are … the last couple games in terms of how they’re executing what they do, they just play with so much more confidence.”
Virginia’s night started with a bit of good fortune on the offensive end. It ended with a season-high 78 points and its sixth win in its last seven games.