Cavaliers Win Opener over Stubborn Eagles

Ken Cross

November 09, 2022 at 8:48 am.

The Virginia Cavaliers used a 15-2 run midway through the second half to subdue the aggressive North Carolina Central Eagles, 73-61, in the season opener for both teams on Monday night.

Armaan Franklin scored 21 points to lead four Cavaliers in double figures and Kehei Clark, Reece Beekman and Ben Vander Plas each nailed a three-pointer in that run as Virginia was 5-for-5 from the floor over 3:26 in that stretch.

“I feel like I’m more confident in myself and it shows from all the work I put in this summer,” said Franklin. “It benefited me a lot to be so much more comfortable on the court this year.”

The Cavaliers answered a 19-10 run by North Carolina Central as the Eagles took their only lead of the evening at 44-43 when Eric Boone made a lay-up. The Eagles trailed 31-15 thanks in part to Franklin’s 13-point outburst to start the game.

“Armaan got off to a good start and you have got to go with guys who are playing well and we have more options this year,” said coach Tony Bennett.

Franklin made 5-of-9 shots from the floor as four of these were threes. He also went to the line eight times and made seven.

“His confidence is five times higher this year than it was last year,” said forward Kadin Shedrick. “He will shoot the ball when anybody is in his face and he will act like they are not there. He shoots when he is open with confidence and he shoots when he is contested with confidence and that’s what we need from Armaan.”

North Carolina Central head coach Level Moten also thought that Franklin was able to answer even after his Eagles had gotten back in the game and were close to putting themselves back in position to try to pull the upset.

“We thought we had some golden opportunities and got off to a rough start,” said Moten. “Franklin made us pay. We knew not to go under ball screens or any kind of screens on him and when we did, he made us pay.”

Shedrick’s physicality will allow him to test opponents more this season as he went 3-of-6 from the field and his third basket came with 9:20 remaining when the Eagles had cut the score to 58-52.

Bennett was excited to see Shedrick convert on both ends of the floor as he played around 27 minutes.

“Kadin’s timing and shot blocking, just being an anchor for our defense, I think at times he has been,” noted Bennett. “I want to really see him establish that role, running the floor, doing the things that he’s shown improvement from the summer and this fall.”

As for the Eagles, guards Justin Wright (20) and Eric Boone (18) led the team in scoring as their aggressiveness showed why they will challenge Morgan State, Norfolk State and Howard for the MEAC championship this season.

“I thought we got some good shots. We just didn’t make them. Like Kris (Monroe) was 0-of-7,” said Moten. “I thought if he would have made a couple of shots and we would have been able to execute down the stretch, we would have had a better shot.”