CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP)—J.R. Reynolds had three fouls, no field goals and 10 minutes on the bench to think about making something happen when he got back in.
His confidence intact, he hit a tying 3-pointer with 7:12 left and scored 10 more the rest of the way to help No. 25 Virginia beat North Carolina State 67-62 Sunday for its first victory in its conference opener in 12 seasons
“I kind of knew, the next shot I took, it was going to go in,” said Reynolds, who had missed all six shots before the 3-pointer. “All my shots were rattling in and out. It was just a matter of me just calming down and just getting into a rhythm.”
Virginia didn’t go ahead to stay until Sean Singletary broke a 62-all tie with a 16-footer with 1:03 left, but N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said Reynolds’ second 3-pointer, which made it 62-61 with 1:41 to play, was the game’s biggest shot.
The Wolfpack had scored on consecutive possession to take a 61-59 lead.
“When you have a guy that’s been around and is accustomed to taking those shots and, more importantly, to making those shots, he didn’t hesitate,” Lowe said.
Reynolds followed his first 3-pointer by staring at coach Dave Leitao, who has been on his case of late, as he trotted back on defense, delighting the second-year coach.
“That’s the kind of swagger or bravado that good teams and good players have,” Leitao said.
He added that Reynolds “is trying to find his rhythm and I’m trying to implore him to find his rhythm, and sometimes I don’t do it too nicely.”
Reynolds and Will Harris scored 14 apiece for Virginia (5-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), and Singletary had 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Singletary and Reynolds also helped get Harris ready for a big second half, where he scored 12 of his points, several times with physical plays close to the basket.
“After Coach, and J.R. and Sean came up to talk to me (at halftime), I had this fire in me to go out there and win and try to play confident,” Harris said.
The Wolfpack (5-1, 0-1) lost for the first time under Lowe. They got 17 points from Brandon Costner and 15 from Gavin Grant, but Costner missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it with about 6 seconds left, and Singletary hit two free throws to seal it.
The teams swapped the lead back and forth on 11 consecutive possessions at one point until Reynolds scored six points in an 8-2 run to give the Cavaliers a 56-53 lead with 4:18 left. After Grant made two free throws for N.C. State, Mamadi Diane scored inside for the Cavaliers, his first field goal since the opening minutes.
The Wolfpack rallied to even it at 59 on Courtney’s Fells’ second straight turnaround 15-footer with 2:43 left, and again at 62 after Ben McCauley made a layup and then one of two free throws with 1:25 to play, but they didn’t score again.
McCauley added 12 points and Fells 11 for the Wolfpack, which was without their lone senior, Engin Atsur, because of a hamstring injury and relied almost entirely on their starting five. Grant played 40 minutes, McCauley, Costner and Fells 38 each.
Lowe said he didn’t want to use being tired as an excuse for his team, but said it was nice for the Cavaliers to have a well-rested Reynolds to boost them at the end.
“He came back in and did what he’s capable of doing,” he said.
Virginia led 27-26 after a first half in which the team were never more than five points apart and both shot poorly. The Wolfpack was at 36 percent and missed 12 of its 14 3-point attempts; the Cavaliers were at 31 percent and made three of 13 3s.