CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Trey Murphy III and his Virginia teammates couldn’t wait to get back to work.
Murphy scored seven of his 15 points during a 13-0 first-half run and No. 16 Virginia returned from a long coronavirus-related pause to beat William & Mary 76-40 on Tuesday.
“Really, I think that quarantine put a little bit of hunger in us and we were all just so eager to play and when we came back on Saturday, it was just clicking,” the transfer from Rice said. “It was crazy that we were out for 10 days and that first practice back, it was one of our better practices.”
The Cavaliers (4-1) were playing for the first time since they beat Kent State on Dec. 4 but showed few signs of rust; they cashed in on their first five possessions to take an 11-2 lead. A 13-0 run came shortly thereafter as William & Mary went 7:52 without scoring.
“I don’t even remember the last time we played,” said Kadin Shedrick, who added 10 points for the Cavaliers. “It felt really good to be out there.”
Yuri Covington’s 12 points led the Tribe (2-3), which never recovered from their scoring drought. They lost their 12th straight in the series, which Virginia leads 56-26. William & Mary’s last victory against the Cavaliers came in 1984-85.
Second-year Tribe coach Dane Fischer still found reasons to be pleased.
“For us to get 14 offensive rebounds against Virginia speaks to the volume of the effort our guys were giving, which is great,” Fischer said.
The game served as a tuneup of sorts for the Cavaliers before they face top-ranked Gonzaga on Saturday, but with the contest well in hand, coach Tony Bennett emptied his bench.
“Things that you can’t control, you can’t have a negative reaction to it,” Murphy said. “And so I just had to move on because we know we’re going to get our opportunity and I’m looking forward to that on Saturday.
“It’s a really big game and me and my teammates are very excited to play Gonzaga.”
William & Mary: The Tribe had great difficulty with Virginia’s quickness and height advantage. The Cavaliers got 14 of their first 17 points in the paint — six on driving layups by Kihei Clark. William & Mary’s scoring drought also coincided with its sloppiness. In nearly eight minutes, the Tribe had six turnovers and were just 0 for 4 from the field.
Protecting the paint was a point of emphasis, Fischer said.
“We said if this team’s going to be laying the ball in the basket, we’ve got no shot,” Fischer said he told his team. “That was a big concern for us coming in.”
Virginia: Clark’s reinsertion into the starting lineup provided an instant boost as he scored 14 seconds into the game on a layup, one of three he had in the opening eight minutes. He had come off the bench in the last two games as freshman Reece Beekman started.
This game would have had implications only if the Cavaliers had lost.
The Tribe begin Colonial Athletic Association play with games at Hofstra on Jan. 2 and 3.
The Cavaliers go on the road to face top-ranked Gonzaga in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday.
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