Dec. 22, 1997

Curtis Staples
Curtis Staples scored 23 points in Cavs victory. (file photo).

Virginia Crushes VMI

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Cavaliers (6-3, 0-1 ACC) used a 15-0 run at the beginning of the game to take a 15-2 lead and never looked back as they defeated the Keydets of VMI (4-4) tonight 92-55 in University Hall. Virginia was led by Curtis Staples, who scored 23 points, including shooting five-for-seven from behind the three-point line, as the Cavaliers recorded their highest point total of the 1997-98 season to date. In all, the Cavaliers had four players in double figures, including Staples, Norman Nolan, Willie Dersch, and Monte Marcaccini. Nolan contributed 19 points, while Dersch chipped in a career-high 18 points. Marcaccini recorded 13 points, his high in the Virginia program, including four-of-six from behind the arc. Virginia head coach Jeff Jones commented that "Marcaccini's probably our second-best threat from three-point range."

After VMI scored the opening basket, Virginia scored 15 consecutive points in a five minute span, including six points each from Nolan and Colin Ducharme. The teams traded baskets for the next seven minutes with neither team scoring more than three consecutive points in that span.

With 6:54 remaining in the first half, the Cavaliers put together a 20-5 run that lasted 5:26, highlighted by Dersch's nine points. VMI scored the last five points in the half in the final 1:28, including a three-point shot by Nick Richardson that banked off the glass into the bucket at the buzzer. Virginia led at halftime 53-30 on the strength of 69.2 percent shooting from the field, including six-of-seven from three-point land.

Virginia opened the second half with eight consecutive points to push the margin to 31 at 61-30 behind six of Nolan's 19 points. The Cavaliers would stretch the margin to 38 at 74-36 with 10:41 remaining in the game before the Keydets answered with seven consecutive points of their own to stem the Cavalier run.

Virginia answered the Keydet run with another streak of its own, holding VMI to a single point in the next 3:10 while scoring 12 points. Staples and Dersch each scored five points in this run as the Cavaliers opened up the widest margin of the game at 42 points when Craig McAndrew hit two free throws for an 86-44 lead with 5:46 remaining.

The Cavaliers won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Keydets 45-30. Individually the Cavaliers were led by Marcaccini's nine rebounds, while Eric Mann led the Keydets with six boards. Ducharme added four blocks for the Cavaliers and Pete McLaughlin, making his third consecutive start, had six assists for Virginia. Jones was quick to note that "The old adage is if it's not broke, don't fix it. But at this time we haven't made any final decisions about the starting lineup against Nebraska."

The Cavaliers travel tonight to Honolulu, Hawaii, to compete in the Rainbow Classic. Virginia faces Nebraska in the opening round. The game against the Cornhuskers will take place on December 27 at 10:30 pm EST.