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No. 8 Virginia beats LaSalle 64-56

NEW YORK (AP) — Malcolm Brogdon scored a career-high 20 points and No. 8 Virginia held off LaSalle 64-56 on Friday night in the Barclays Center Classic semifinals.

“We took our foot of the gas and didn’t take care of the ball,” Brogdon said about the second half in which the Cavaliers were outscored 37-27. “They took it to us.”

Anthony Gill added 16 for Virginia, which improved to 6-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. The Cavaliers haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than 55 points this season. The Cavaliers led wire-to-wire. Virginia opened with a 13-2 run and had a 37-19 advantage at halftime.

“We obviously played an outstanding team,” LaSalle coach Dr. John Giannini said. “Virginia frustrated us. They’re awfully good. I think sometimes when you play a team at a different level, it just takes you a while to adjust to the size and the speed of the game.”

Which is exactly what LaSalle did in the second half as it rallied against the reigning ACC champions. The Explorers used an 13-1 run to cut it to 49-41. Jordan Price scored 10 straight in that stretch, highlighted by a driving, twisting lay-in. But Brogdan’s backdoor layup pushed the lead back to 10.

Then LaSalle went cold from the field, but still managed to pull to 58-54 after Jerrell Wright and Price made three free throws with under 2 minutes left.

That was as close as the Explorers would get, even though they limited Virginia to 8-of-22 shooting from the field in the second half. For the game, Virginia shot 48 percent and LaSalle 40 percent.

Brogdon made two free throws, followed by back-to-back emphatic dunks by Justin Anderson and Mike Tobey to give Virginia the final margin of victory.

Still, the Cavaliers were attempting to evaluate how they nearly blew a game in which they enjoyed a 20- point advantage early in the second half.

“It’s so subtle,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “A couple of times we forced (shots, had), a couple of missed layups, missed assignments defensively.

“I don’t know if it was complacency, maybe we got tight. That’s the stuff early in the season. You got to figure this stuff out and hopefully it you get in those spots again, you can keep executing and being sound.”

The win was Virginia’s first against LaSalle in three meetings between the programs. The last time the ACC and Atlantic-10 schools met, LaSalle topped Virginia 67-59 on Dec. 27, 1957.

Price had 20 for LaSalle (4-1).

“We knew that we were down by 20 that we were going to fight,” Price said. “We made a run in the second half but it wasn’t enough.”

The win was Virginia’s first against LaSalle in three meetings between the programs. The last time the ACC and Atlantic-10 schools met, LaSalle topped Virginia 67-59 on Dec. 27, 1957.

TIP INS

Virginia: The Cavaliers improved to 2-0 this season against A-10 schools, and 114-79 overall.

LaSalle: The preseason tournament marked the Explorers’ third visit to the billion dollar arena in Brooklyn. LaSalle had participated in the A-10 postseason tournament at Barclays Center in 2012 and 2013.

QUOTABLE: “I think it’s just a learning process for us. We didn’t finish the game we wanted to. We had problems dealing with the switching in the second half. I think we’re going to make some adjustments to that but I think we can finish the game better. It’s nothing that we can’t handle. It’s a learning process and we’re going to learn from it get stronger.” — Virginia forward Anthony Gill on his team’s struggle in the second half.

UP NEXT:

Virginia will meet Rutgers in the championship game Saturday night.

LaSalle will face Vanderbilt in the consolation game.

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