NEWARK, N.J. — New season, even newer faces, but before the 2021-2022 college basketball season gets too deep in its campaign, many vanquished opponents may be uttering the same lamentation: same old Virginia.
A couple of transfers into the Virginia program, Jayden Gardner and Armaan Franklin, combined for 35 points in leading the Cavaliers to a 58-40 victory over the Providence Friars in the championship game of the Roman Legends Classic at the Prudential Center.
Gardner, a transfer from East Carolina, registered a 21-point, 13-rebound double-double against the Friars, his third double-double of the season. He was almost perfect from the field, as he went 8-for-9 from the floor and made all five of his free throws.
Franklin, an Indiana transfer, scored all 14 of his points in the first half, one game after going for a career-high 23 points in the win on Monday against Georgia.
Virginia’s defense, long the staple of the program under head coach Tony Bennett, completely shut down the Friars offense, holding them to 23.5 perfect shooting from the floor (12-for-51) and forcing the Friars to miss 19 of their 22 three-point attempts.
After the Friars took a 7-4 lead, the Cavaliers went on a 13-0 run to establish control of the game. The run started and ended on Franklin three-pointers, and his back-to-back threes to start the spurt gave Virginia a 10-7 lead, an advantage that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Gardner scored on a layup and a mid-range jumper in the middle of Franklin’s barrage from the outside.
Noah Horchler led the Friars with 14 points, whole Aljami Durham was the only other Friar in double figures with 10 points. Leading scorer Nate Watson was held to just eight points on 4-of-11 shooting.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST photographer Danny Suriel. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 33 pictures in total.