Forward Mike Owens, hampered all season by ankle injuies, come off the bench to score 21 points and ignite Virginia to an 83-76 victory over Wake Forest today in Atlantic Cost Conference action.
The Cavaliers connected on 67 percent of their second-half shots to doom the Deacons to their 10th loss in 12 games at University Hall. Wake lost its sixth game in eight confercnce starts and fell to 10-11 overall.
Virginia is 5-3 in the confercnce, 14-6 for the season.
"When they (Wake) went into their tri-angle-and-two defense, all I had to do was pop out to the top to get open," said Owens, a junior out of Einstein High in Kensington, Md., who also added nine rebounds.
Owens, as successful around the key area as a locksmith, canned 10 of 15 shots, including a monster hook-dunk late in the game.
"My ankles have been bothering me so badly, I wasn't sure I could even touch the rim," said the 6-foot-6 Owens. "They must have lowered the basket for that dunk."
The entire Cavalier squad shot well enough to make the visitors wish the hoop was a few feet higher as Virginia finished with 55 percent accuracy from the floor. Senior center Steve Castellan added 19 points and guard Bobby Stokes 16.
Sophomore swingman Jeff Lamp was held to 14 points, 10 fewer than his league-leading average. Lamp had scored 95 points in Virginia's last three games.
"After some recent losses (to Duke and N.C. State), we reevaluated ourselves," said Owens. "We were depending too much on one or two guys carrying the scoring load. We had to start getting the big guys the ball inside. Now we're picking up the slack -- showing we can win without Jeff scoring 50 points."
Lee Raker, the team's second-leading scorer this season, missed his fourth straight game with a pulled stomach muscle.
The game was tied six times and had two lead changes before consecutive jump shots by Owers gave Virginia the lead for good, 29-25, with just over five minutes left in the first half.
The Deacons stubbornly stuck with both a 2-3 zone and a triangle and two throughout the opening half despite the open shots Virginia was getting because of Jeff Jones' precision passing (four assists).
Owens and Castellan combined for 23 points to do most of the damage in the first half as Virginia led at intermission, 38-35. Deacon freshman forward Alvis Rogers wheeled and dealed to score 10 of his 18 points in the half.
Deacon turnovers, steals by Lamp, Stokes and Castellan and balanced scoring by the Cavaliers enabled Virginia to take a 55-44 lead after eight minutes of the second half.
Wake switched to a man-to-man defense midway through the second half and shortly thereafter began pressing full court. But good ball-handling by Stokes and Jones -- Virginia had only nine turnovers for the game -- kept the visitors from coming closer than the final margin.
Stokes scored Virginia's final eight points on six free throws and a fastbreak layup. Deacon guard Frank Johnson, the game's high scorer (27), fueled Wake's futile last-ditch charge with several acrobatic driving shots and scored 19 in the final half.
Castellan, from St. Anselm's in Washington, played a fine all-round game for Virginia with nine rebounds. He also contributed two resounding rejections, assisted on three baskets and scored well from 15-18 feet.