MINNEAPOLIS, DEC. 29 -- John Crotty made two baskets and assisted on two others during a 10-3 spurt midway through the second half tonight, leading No. 19 Virginia to its fifth straight victory, 79-72, over Minnesota.

He finished with 19 points and 12 assists for the Cavaliers (7-2), who also got 22 points from Bryant Stith and 20 from Anthony Oliver.

The Gophers (6-3) lost their third straight game since a 6-0 start had them only three votes shy of top 25 status. Playing before a season-high crowd of 16,491 at Williams Arena, they lost their second straight home game.

It was a 46-46 game before Crotty's layup with 9:43 to go put Virginia ahead for good. He then fed Cornel Parker for a layup and made an 18-foot jumper for a 52-46 lead. After Kevin Lynch's three-point play pulled the Gophers within three, Stith made a layup and Crotty set up Kenny Turner's dunk, putting the Cavaliers ahead 56-49 with 7:34 remaining.

Minnesota pulled within three points several times, the last at 62-59 on Arriel McDonald's two foul shots with 3:37 left. But Crotty fed Stith for a three-pointer and Virginia pulled away.

McDonald had a career-high 22 points for Minnesota. Lynch scored 16 and became the 24th Gopher to reach 1,000 points.

Crotty's three-pointer gave Virginia a 15-8 lead seven minutes into the game, but Minnesota used a 15-2 run over the next 8 1/2 minutes for a 23-17 edge. McDonald scored nine points during the Gophers' run while the Cavaliers missed four of five shots and two free throws and committed nine turnovers.

The Gophers led 28-27 at halftime and opened a 36-31 lead early in the second half. Turner and Stith scored four points each during a 13-3 spurt that put Virginia up 44-39 with 13:36 to play before Dana Jackson scored four during a 7-2 Minnesota surge that made it 46-46.