CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — The way the season has been going for Olivier Hanlan and Boston College, maybe a good second half against No. 20 Virginia was a confidence boost, or a lesson in tenacity.
The Eagles trailed Virginia 40-21 at halftime, then made a game of it, closing within six points in the final minute before Malcolm Brogdon made some critical free throws to give the Cavaliers a 77-67 victory Wednesday night.
"In the second half, we were a whole different team in terms of our aggressiveness and not being afraid to make mistakes," Hanlan said after the Eagles lost for the ninth time in 11 games. "I'm pretty sure we won the second half, but you can't expect to just win the second half in order to win the game against a team like that."
"In a couple of ways, I think we went toe-to-toe with the 20th-best team in the country, and I really do think they are terrific." Eagles coach Steve Donahue said of Virginia (18-5, 9-1).
Brogdon had 17 points, a career-best 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Cavaliers, who used first-half runs of 15-0 and 20-8 to seemingly take command.
Gill's layup sparked a 15-0 burst early in the game, allowing the Cavaliers to pull away from a 5-all tie. After BC scored eight straight to get within 20-13, Virginia closed the half with a 20-8 spree.
The victory continued Virginia's best start in the conference since the 1981-82 team won 12 of its first 13 games.
Trailing 69-50, they scored 17 of the next 21 points, getting within 73-67 with 57 seconds left on Garland Owens' 3-pointer. Brogdon was quickly fouled, and he made both shots as Virginia held on.
The game was the Cavaliers' first since a 3-pointer by Brogdon in the closing seconds lifted them to a 48-45 victory at No. 18 Pittsburgh, a triumph that vaulted Virginia back into the Top 25 for the first time since the opening weeks of the season.
They took command quickly, in part by shooting 50 percent (17 of 34) from the field before halftime, and by turning 10 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points. The Eagles, meanwhile, shot just 39 percent in the first half and were outrebounded 24-11. Virginia turned its five turnovers into 11 points.
Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr