CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Virginia men’s basketball leader Mamadi Diakite picked up two fouls in the first 52 seconds Tuesday and it was a struggle the rest of the night for 18th-ranked UVa in a 60-53 loss at Boston College.
The Cavaliers (11-3, 3-1 ACC) trailed by 13 points in the second half before taking a brief 50-45 lead. The Eagles (9-6, 3-1) then outscored UVa 15-3 over the final 5:04.
“Certainly, they outplayed us,” UVa Coach Tony Bennett said in his post-game radio appearance. “We did not play well — and that’s about as simple as you can put it — in most areas. [It was] very frustrating.”
Following Diakite’s second foul, in came Jay Huff. Fast forward 15 seconds, and Huff was called for a foul.
Normally, Bennett can rely on Diakite and Huff to provide quality minutes in the frontcourt. Against a relatively undersized team like Boston College, that would’ve been a recipe for success.
But the whistles kept blowing.
Huff picked up his second foul with 14:42 remaining in the first half, which forced Bennett to use Justin McKoy and Francisco Caffaro at times. He stuck Huff and Diakite back on the floor, and Huff committed his third foul with 4:21 left before intermission.
Boston College jumped on Virginia with Diakite out. The shorthanded Eagles, who were without frontcourt star Nik Popovic and leading scorer Derryck Thornton, battled valiantly and performed well on the offensive end against an elite Virginia defense.
The Eagles led 18-8 after the first 10 minutes of the game, relying on stellar defense from Jay Heath against Kihei Clark and efficient scoring from Jairus Hamilton. Heath and Hamilton combined for 17 first-half points on 7 of 8 shooting.
“Their freshmen played well,” Bennett said. “Heath kind of took it at us. They certainly outhustled us. You can’t get outhustled. You’ve got to at least match it. I thought they were the aggressor.”
UVa did eventually rally, but not until Boston College extended its lead into double figures in the second half.
The Eagles opened up a 42-30 lead after a layup by Hamilton and was looking to increase its lead following a UVa turnover, but the Cavs countered with a steal of their own.
That was the beginning of a 15-3 run that was capped by a 3-pointer by Clark that tied the score at 45 with 7:09 to play . The Cavs eventually extended the run to 20-3 to go up 50-45, but the Eagles found a way to regain momentum.
The score was tied 53-53 when Hamilton hit a 3-pointer with an assist from Heath with 38 seconds left.
Boston College was led by Heath with 17 points and Hamilton with 16.
Braxton Key had a team-high 16 points for Virginia but was helped from the floor in the final minutes after an apparent injury to his left wrist, on which he had undergone surgery earlier in the season.
Clark had 12 points but was only 2 for 11 from the field, with both of his field goals coming on 3-pointers The rest of the team was 1 for 14 from beyond the arc.
“He didn’t play one of his better games, of course,” Bennett said. “It was just a lot of self-inflicted wounds … just not quality play at our end.”
Bennett said that freshman guard Casey Morsell, a starter, had taken ill Monday night. Morsell started but went scoreless in 12 minutes of playing time.
“I thought the bright spot was [sophomore] Kody Stattmann,” Bennett said.
Stattmann got 11 points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes off the bench.
“I always try to find some [positive] things and hopefully he’s coming,” Bennett said.
“Playing on the road takes a level of maturity, a level of readiness and energy. I might add that Boston College was without its leading scorer. We had our opportunities and didn’t take care of business,” Bennett added.
Bennett Conlin of The (Charlottesville) Daily Progress contributed to this report