Clark steals momentum for Virginia in win over Albany
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Armaan Franklin scored 20 points, Jayden Gardner had 16 and No. 13 Virginia ended a two-game skid, breezing past Albany 66-46 on Wednesday night.
Coming off losses at home to Houston and on the road to Miami that sent it tumbling from the No. 2 spot in the AP Top 25, Virginia (9-2) went on a 30-4 run spanning the halves to pull away in its final nonconference game.
The Cavaliers played without starting guard Reece Beekman, who is battling a right hamstring injury, likely with an eye toward having him ready for their Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday at Georgia Tech.
Da’Kquan Davis led the Great Danes (5-10) with 11 points. They shot 31% overall (16 of 52).
The Cavaliers trailed 24-22 before scoring the final 11 points of the opening half, including consecutive steals and layups by Kihei Clark, who finished with eight points and nine assists.
Virginia added the first seven points after halftime, holding Albany scoreless over 8:43.
Gardner’s free throw put Virginia ahead 52-28 with 8:52 remaining, and Albany never got closer than 20 points from there.
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Virginia fired up its defense-loving crowd by forcing a shot clock violation with 3:40 left in the first half, but on the Cavaliers’ ensuing possession, they also failed to hit the rim.
Virginia forced another violation after halftime, giving it 10 for the season, and the Great Danes had numerous other possessions end with desperate heaves.
Albany: The Great Danes’ quickness and ball movement bothered Virginia at times, especially with the Cavaliers missing Beekman, their best defender.
Virginia: Coach Tony Bennett shook up his starting lineup, inserting freshman guard Isaac McKneely in Beekman’s spot and Ben Vander Plas at forward for Kadin Shedrick. Shedrick entered the game within two minutes, however, when Vander Plas was quickly whistled for a foul.
Albany: Hosts New Hampshire on Saturday.
Virginia: At Georgia Tech on Saturday.