Newark, N.J. —There is an old adage that defense wins championship and Virginia put on a defensive clinic in the second half of the Roman Legends Classic.
The Cavaliers’ defense was stifling, behind a combined 35 points from Jayden Gardner and Armaan Franklin, Virginia beat previously unbeaten Providence 58-40 on Tuesday night to take the Roman Legends Classic Championship.
Gardner hit 8 of his 9 shots from the field and all five of his free throw attempts to score 21 points to go with 13 boards to lead the Cavaliers over previously unbeaten Providence in the Classic.
Virginia (4-2) have won seven of their last eight November tournaments.
The Friars scored five of the game’s first seven points, but Virginia Cavaliers took the lead for good on back-to-back treys from Franklin, who picked up right where he left off after matching a career-high with 23 points against the Bulldogs on Monday night.
The Cavaliers held a 30-15 lead at the break and led 40-23 with 15:20 left after Kihei Clark drained a three. Providence responded with a 13-2 run ignited by eight straight points from Noah Horchler. Brycen Goodine’s deep three with 10:50 left got the Friars within six, 42-36, but they would managed just four points the rest of the contest.
Horchler poured in 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Providence (5-1), which hit just 12 of 51 shots on the hardwood, 3 of 22 from downtown.
The Friars entered Tuesday night’s contest averaging over 76 points per game. After the Cavaliers held Providence to just 15 points in the first half, it became real clear that they would not be reaching their season average.
Virginia held Providence to 26.1% shooting in the first half and 23.5% shooting in the game, the Cavaliers didn’t the Friars any good looks on the perimeter.
In the second half things didn’t go well for the Cavaliers, as Franklin and Kadin Shedrick both picked up their third fouls within the first two minutes of the half. The Friars scored the first four points of the half, but Clark, who was scoreless in the first half, hit a pair of three-pointers to put Virginia back on top. Clark finished with 10 points and five assists in the contest.
The Friars implemented a aggressive full-court press on nearly every Virginia possession in the second half, even off of missed shots. Virginia struggled with the pressure and turned the ball over 11 times in the second half.
Reece Beekman cut to the rim and finished with a foul to put the Cavaliers up 54-40 with less than two minutes to go to seal. Beekman finished with five points, seven assists, two blocks, and a swipe.
Virginia came to Brick City and delivered two solid performances to win the Roman Legends Classic, the eighth non-conference tournament championship in the last nine seasons for the Cavaliers. More importantly, Virginia’s outstanding defensive effort in both games was the difference in the outcome.
With the win, UVA improves to 4-2 on the season. The Cavaliers returns home to host Lehigh on Friday at 7pm.