SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A peaked-looking London Perrantes emerged from the visitor’s locker room with tired eyes and a wan smile Tuesday night. Virginia’s senior point guard admitted he was feeling a touch under the weather.
“Flu game,” junior forward Isaiah Wilkins joked as he walked by Perrantes.
If this was Perrantes’ flu game — 22 points, including a season-best five three-pointers — the rest of the ACC should be on notice for the rest of the season after the No. 12 Cavaliers beat No. 14 Notre Dame for the 10th straight time, 71-54.
“I knew once they went to the zone, I was going to be able to get those shots,” said Perrantes, who made five of eight from beyond the arc. “I just shot it with confidence.”
His teammates didn’t leave him to go it alone. Wilkins contributed 13 points, including 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Devon Hall added 11 points and nine rebounds, Marial Shayok contributed 10 points. And freshman guard Ty Jerome had eight points, including two three-pointers and two pivotal assists, in 14 minutes.
“London wasn’t feeling great, and I thought that the guys stepped up,” Cavaliers Coach Tony Bennett said. “You have to have that — Marial kept us going with some nice buckets, Devon rebounded, Isaiah shot the free throws well, so many things. To get that from Ty was significant, and he’s been showing that in practice, he really has. He’s kind of gotten limited minutes, but he’s always ready and that kid stays after it — that young man stays after it — and works on his shot, works on his game. He hasn’t lost heart, for sure.”
Said Wilkins: “Never in my life have I taken 10 free throws. And I’ve never made nine of them before in my life either. I’ll take both of those.”
The victory moves Virginia to 16-3 and 6-2 in the ACC, just a half-game behind No. 6 Florida State and No. 9 North Carolina.
The Cavaliers shot 46 percent from the field and 47 percent from beyond the three-point arc to turn a one-point game at halftime into a blowout in the final minutes, sending a packed crowd at Purcell Pavilion home disappointed.
It was another defensive clinic from Virginia, which notched its fifth consecutive win. The team now turns its attention to No. 1 Villanova in Philadelphia on Sunday for the second half of back-to-back road matchups against ranked teams. The Wildcats will be coming off a 74-72 loss to Marquette on Tuesday night.
“We’ve had some momentum building leading up to this game and to keep it going is huge for us,” Perrantes said. “Another crazy atmosphere we’re about to go into, a great team. Yeah, momentum is huge for us right now.”
The Cavaliers held the Irish to 41.7 percent shooting and out-rebounded them 38-22 — its largest deficit of the season. Notre Dame made just 3 of 18 beyond the arc.
Bonzie Colson led the Irish with 20 points, 14 of which came in the first half.
Notre Dame (17-4, 6-2) started the second half with two missed field goals bookended by a pair of turnovers to give Virginia a chance to extend its lead. The Cavaliers never trailed in the second half, though the Irish got close — within one point — twice.
Virginia controlled tempo for much of the first half, holding Notre Dame to just 10 points in the first 11 minutes before a three-pointer from Steve Vasturia and a jumper and extra point from Colson tied the game at 16-16.
Colson went on a run after that, scoring the next nine points for the Irish as the Cavaliers turned to the three-pointer to maintain their precious edge — Perrantes had two in the final four minutes and Devon Hall added another to take Virginia to the locker room with a 27-26 lead.
“We play slow, we play our game,” Wilkins said. “We’re not gonna surprise anybody, we just do what we do.”