"Missing free throws, that gave them the opportunity," senior Dennis Horner said.
The Cavalier made their final 17 free-throws and finished 19-of-20 from the charity stripe. The Pack, meanwhile, went 16-of-26 and missed seven in the second half with a lead that let the Cavaliers seize momentum. In the end, it was the easiest shots in the game that helped Virginia grab an ACC road win with a 70-62 win on Saturday afternoon at the RBC Center.
"We need guys to step up under pressure and make their free throws," Sidney Lowe said. "We've got to get them in tomorrow and shoot more free throws."
Lowe pointed to more than just the free throws after the game, though. The Wolfpack (11-5, 0-2 ACC) was not happy with a charging call on Horner in the second half, feeling as though the Cavalier (9-4, 1-0) defender was inside the ‘imaginary' circle. The call drastically changed momentum as it would have made it a 47-36 with Horner on the line for one more. Instead, Virginia took possession and nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to six points.
"I don't understand it – something can help the officials," Lowe said. "Just a line down there, something. It's a tough call to make."
Tracy Smith again led the Pack in scoring and rebounding with 18 points and nine boards but was part of the problem on the line, going 6-of-10. The only other Pack player in double figures was Horner with 12 points. As a team the Pack shot 40 percent from the floor and just 29 percent from behind the arc. The Cavaliers shot 43 percent and 46 percent respectively.
The Pack fell into a scoring slump midway through the half, falling behind by as much as six before rallying with a 7-0 run capped off by a Wood 3-pointer. The home team got hot from behind the arc after that, with three of its final four field goals in the half coming from 3-point range.
For the half, the Pack shot 42 percent overall and 43 percent from behind the arc. The team turned the ball over six times but forced seven turnovers from the Cavaliers and kept Virginia at bay from the floor – holding them to 37 percent shooting and 2-of-5 on 3-pointers. The Pack still struggled on the boards however, giving up seven offensive rebounds on 19 misses. The Pack's run at the end of the half gave them a 30-26 lead going into the locker room.
The Pack came out hot in the second half, jumping ahead by as many as 10 points before Virginia started its comeback. The Pack aided Virginia by missing free throws, missing seven of them in the first 10 minutes. The result was a six-point lead that could have been a 13-point lead. It also zapped the energy from the Pack and gave it to the Cavaliers, according to Wood.
"It took the energy and transferred it over to their side," Wood said.