London Perrantes finished with 24 points and Marial Shayok added 23 as No. 5 seed Virginia erased a 15-point first half deficit to knock off upset-minded No. 12 seed UNC Wilmington, 76-71, in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Orlando.
The Cavs were a trendy pick to be a first round upset in this year’s tournament, and it looked like that would come to fruition early on, as the Seahawks gave the Cavaliers trouble at the start of the game. Tony Bennett made the decision to field the smallest lineup he may ever field. Virginia went to a five-guard look, with the likes of Shayok and Devon Hall and Darius Thompson manning the front court, as Virginia was able to counteract the UNCW press that was so effective early in the game.
UNCW had 12 points off of turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game. They had two points off of turnovers in the final 28 minutes of the game.
Perrantes was, as you would probably expect, the hero, hitting a pair of critical runners in the lane after appearing to injure his shoulder in the second half. His performance in the second half of this game was peak Perrantes. It never felt like he was in total control of what was happening, but he was. Shayok hit the dagger, a banked-in 12-footer over two defenders with less than 30 seconds left.
It’s a shame that this UNCW run is likely going to come to an end like this. Head coach Kevin Keatts is in the mix with just about every high-major job opening on the market, and there are a couple of key pieces on this roster that are seniors. The Seahawks probably deserved a tournament win at some point during this run, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
Virginia will advance to take on the winner of No. 4 Florida and No. 13 East Tennessee State, which will be played later this afternoon.