No. 18 Virginia competes to fire live against northern Iowa

C-Ville has been Three-Ville for No. 18 Virginia looking to continue its hot 3-point shooting Monday night when Northern Iowa visits Charlottesville, Virginia.

After ranked 350th in the nation in averaging 5.0 three-point field goals per game last season, the Cavaliers (2-0) in the opener against North Carolina Central clinched 11 triples and 13 more in a one-sided win against Central Monmouth.

Virginia shoots 48 percent from behind the arc. Seven players have already made at least a three-pointer and five have connected with three or more, led by Armaan Franklin (6 of 11) and Isaac McKneely (5 of 10).

“Does that guarantee you’re going to shoot and shoot at a high percentage (every game)? No, but it opens the ground and the threat is there,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said after Friday night’s 89-42 loss to Monmouth .

McKneely scored a game-high 15 points off the bench and hit four 3-pointers against the Hawks. Fellow student Ryan Dunn added 13 points and graduate transfer Ben Vander Plas scored 10.

“He has very good vision,” Bennett said of Vander Plas, who had 209 3-pointers in four seasons in Ohio. “He just sees things and boy that makes the game easier for others. He creates.”

Virginia is targeting its first 3-0 start since 2019-20 and looking to build momentum for its next game against No. 5 Baylor on Friday in Las Vegas, a clash between the 2019 national champions Cavaliers and the 2021 national champions , Bears.

Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference have played before, with the Cavaliers winning 57-43 at home on December 21, 2013.

The Panthers (1-1) followed a 105-49 opening win over Division III Wartburg with a 68-55 setback in Richmond on Friday night.

The Panthers shot just 32.8 percent from the field and 13.6 percent (3 of 22) from 3-point territory against the Spiders. They were just a point behind early in the second half before Richmond pulled away on a 23-6 run.

Bowen Born passed UNI by 17 points but missed six of his seven 3-point attempts. Tytan Anderson hit his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Nate Heise added 10 points.

Head coach Ben Jacobson, in his 17th season with the Panthers, has stressed to his young and inexperienced roster that these non-conference games are a learning time.

“As you go through the year and your guys get more experience and you see different situations, you’re like, ‘OK, now we’re going to do this,'” Jacobson said, per The Gazette. “There’s a lot of things you learn by playing games.”

Northern Iowa is still without senior forward Austin Phyfe, who underwent emergency surgery in June for a blood clot in his lungs. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Phyfe has played in 121 games for the Panthers with 71 starts.

“Without him, (we) don’t have the same size and ability to defend low block one-on-one,” Jacobson said.

After missing the first set with an ankle injury, Cole Henry played seven minutes off the bench against the Spiders and contributed five rebounds.