Virginia advances the ACC way Cavaliers pound UMass, 71-56 East Regional

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Standing 6 feet 7 was no problem for Harper Williams and Lou Roe in the Atlantic 10 Conference, where each dominated on the inside in helping Massachusetts to two straight league championships.

But yesterday, against a Virginia team that is considered small by Atlantic Coast Conference standards, the two all-conference performers proved to be no factor.


Williams scored five points and Roe four -- season lows for both -- and No. 3 seed Massachusetts, despite a late rally, was never able to recover from a poor first half in a 71-56 loss to sixth seed Virginia in a second-round NCAA tournament game at the Carrier Dome.

The Cavaliers (21-9) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1989, and will face second seed Cincinnati in the East Regional semifinals Friday in East Rutherford, N.J.


Massachusetts (24-7) was a surprise Sweet 16 team a year ago and was looking to gain further respectability for the Atlantic 10 conference, which placed four teams into tournament and was considered one of the nation's top leagues.

Instead, yesterday's game against a team that finished fifth in the ACC only demonstrated how much farther the Atlantic 10 has to go.

"They were a team that had been through the wars, and they beat us," Massachusetts coach John Calipari said. "They were more physical than us, and that's our game. And they were scrappier than us, and that's our game."

And Virginia was a lot quicker, an area where the Minutemen figured to have an advantage -- particularly in the front court. But Williams, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, and Roe (a combined 4-for-17 from the field) were dominated in the lane by Virginia's Ted Jeffries (14 points) and Jason Williford (career-high 14 points and 10 rebounds).

"I thought they would go inside more, but I'd like to think our defense had a lot to do with that," said Jeffries, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound bruiser from Bowie who played at DeMatha High in Hyattsville. "As a team we play tenacious defense, especially in the first half."

Massachusetts was able to rally from 17 down at halftime to three in the second half, but it was the first half where the Minutemen lost the game.

Williams and Roe seemed out of sync, which was not the case with the inside play of the Cavaliers, who scored eight of their first 11 field goals from the lane to jump to a 28-12 lead.

By halftime, Massachusetts trailed 36-19, shooting 26.7 percent from the field (8-for-30). Williams, who averaged 15.8 points, had three at the break.


"We've done this about 16 times this year where we've started tentatively," Calipari said. "We've been down by eight, we've been down by three, but we've never been down by 17. I told the guys, 'We're in a hole, and we're going to have to chip away.' "

Looking to improve an ineffective low-post game, Calipari had guard Tony Barbee post low in the second half, and the 6-6 senior scored 11 of his 19 points during a 24-10 run at the start of the second half that brought the Minutemen to 46-43 after Barbee's two free throws with 8:21 left.

But Virginia, bothered by Massachusetts' press at the second half's outset, responded with a 15-2 run that broke the Minutemen's spirit.

Virginia, the defending National Invitation Tournament champion, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in school history. Sophomore guard Cory Alexander had 17 points to lead the Cavaliers.