COLUMBIA, SC (WBTV) - The Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs 71-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, South Carolina Friday afternoon.
Through the first 14 minutes of this game, it was all Gardner-Webb. They started 11 of 19 from the field and grabbed a 14 point lead. Senior forward DJ Laster had 10 points but those would be the only points he scored in the game and that was a sign of things to come.
At halftime, Gardner-Webb led 36-30, but number 1 seed Virginia bounced back in the second half.
The Cavaliers started the half on a 12-2 run to grab the lead and the man was De’Andre Hunter.
Hunter had 17 of his game high 23 points in the 2nd half and his teammate Mamadi Diakite had 13 of his 17 points in the half as well.
Jose Perez led the scoring effort for Gardner-Webb with 19 points.
The Cavaliers outscored the Runnin’ Bulldogs 41-20 in the second half.
Gardner-Webb finishes their season 23-12 and won their first ever Big South Conference tournament title.
Along the way, the Runnin’ Bulldogs beat two ACC programs this season in Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. That’s the first time this program has ever beaten two ACC foes in the same year.
Next year’s team will miss seniors David Efianayi and DJ Laster, but they return the runner up for Big South Freshman of the Year Jose Perez and starters Nate Johnson and Jaheam Cornwall. 6th man Eric Jamison will also be back so this team should be a force in 2019-20.