CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — De’Andre Hunter wasn’t the focus of Coppin State’s defense on Friday night, so the sophomore forward showed the overmatched Eagles the error of their ways.
Hunter scored 20 points in just 15½ minutes, and No. 4 Virginia opened with a 21-5 run and beat Coppin State 97-40 on Friday night.
Hunter made all four of his 3-point shots and seven of nine overall and was outscoring the Eagles for most of the first half after hitting two early 3-pointers for the Cavaliers (3-0). A 3-pointer by Ibn Williams with 6:10 left in the half finally gave Coppin State more points than Hunter (13-11), but the Eagles trailed 26-13 and Virginia responded with a 19-2 run over the next 5½ minutes.
“Seeing the early ones go in definitely helps your confidence,” Hunter said.
Mamadi Diakite started in place of Jack Salt (stiff back) for Virginia and added a career-high 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Ty Jerome scored 11 with six assists.
“It felt pretty good. I trusted my teammates and I was playing free,” Diakite said. “I was relaxed, more relaxed than the past few games.”
Coppin State coach Juan Dixon said his team focused mostly on the offense of Jerome and Kyle Guy in scouting, and paid for it.
The Cavaliers shot 60.3 percent overall (35-58) and were 15 for 25 (60 percent) from behind the arc.
Diakite credited Hunter for his big night.
“It gets very easy for us because my man has to double him and he can dish balls to me and I can finish it or, if I get doubled, I can pass it,” he said. “He opens a lot of things for us.”
The Cavaliers will next travel to The Bahamas to face stiffer competition in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“Obviously the competition will step up, but really, you just play the game that’s before you,” coach Tony Bennett said. “I really liked our activity. I like how we shared the ball tonight.”
Ibn Williams and Lamar Morgan led Coppin State (0-4) with six points each. The Eagles trailed 45-17 at halftime and 63-20 after a 15-0 run by Virginia in the second half.
“You’ve got to play these money games, but when you do, try to get the most out of it by competing and being tough,” Dixon said.
Senior manager Grant Kersey has become a fan favorite during three lopsided home victories at home and was again against the Eagles. He checked in during wholesale changes with 3:35 to play and, with one minute left, swished a 3-pointer from just left of the key for his first career field goal, setting off a wild celebration by the crowd.
“He took that shot like he knew it was going in,” Bennett said. “That was great to see and that was the loudest I heard the crowd.”
Kersey, allowed to dress for home games, had a steal in the opener and hit two free throws in the Cavaliers’ last game, but his No. 13 jersey still hasn’t arrived. He again wore a vastly oversized No. 1 jersey with “Virginia” on the back where other players have their last name.
Coppin State: The Eagles have earned their 0-4 mark to start the season, playing on the road at Wisconsin, Dayton, Navy and Virginia. Dixon, in his second season, fell to 5-31 overall, but beyond a starting five that features three seniors and a graduate student, he’s got a roster full of freshmen and sophomores that may fit better into the style he’d like to play.
Virginia: The Cavaliers haven’t experienced much resistance in beating Towson, George Washington and the Eagles to start the season. After opening against Middle Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis, they will play either Butler or Dayton in the second round.
“It will be a lot different because we won’t have a home crowd there, but we still have to play our game and do what we do,” Hunter said.
Coppin State: The Eagles stay on the road, playing at Rider in New Jersey on Monday.
Virginia: Ventures away from home for the first time, facing Middle Tennessee in The Bahamas.
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