RALEIGH, N.C. — Virginia turned to its reserves in clutch situations and they provided enough to prevent history.
Anthony Gill and Evan Nolte combined for 18 second-half points off the bench and top-seeded Virginia avoided a part of history it wanted no part of, overcoming 16th-seeded Coastal Carolina 70-59 in an NCAA Tournament East Regional second-round game on Friday night at PNC Arena.
Gill finished with 17 points and Nolte provided all eight of his points in a key second-half stretch.
“Those are the two guys,” Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis said. “They came off the bench and they hurt us.”
A No. 16 seed has never defeated a No. 1 seed in tournament history.
“It can probably happen,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “We were going to be the poster child for that if we didn’t pick it up.”
Virginia (29-6) meets eighth-seeded Memphis (24-9), which eliminated George Washington earlier, in Sunday night’s third round.
Guard Malcolm Brogdon had 14 points, guard London Perrantes added 12 points and guard Joe Harris supplied 11 points for Virginia, which trailed by 10 points late in the first half.
By halftime, Bennett had to get his team’s attention. He said the thought occurred to him that perhaps it just was not the Cavaliers’ night.
“I said, ‘play,'” he said. “But I said you’re going to win it with your defense.”
Forward Badou Diagne scored 14 points and guard Warren Gillis had 13 points for Coastal Carolina (21-13).
Virginia, which is the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament champion, was rescued in part by Nolte, a sophomore forward points down the stretch.
“I just try to come out ready,” Nolte said. “I got some good looks and tried to knock them down. It’s just the mentality to always come out ready.”
Nolte had a total of nine points in Virginia’s previous eight games.
Virginia made 13 of 20 shots from the field (65 percent) in the second half.
Coastal Carolina tied the score at 47 on guard Elijah Wilson’s 3-pointer with 8:50 remaining. Virginia scored the next six points.
Perrantes made three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt before the seldom-used Nolte drained a 3-pointer from the corner for a 53-47 edge.
Nolte struck again from beyond the arc, sending the Cavaliers to a 56-48 lead. It was his first game with more than one 3-pointer since Jan. 4 at Florida State.
“The thing that turned the game around was the 3s and their defense,” Ellis said. “We weren’t getting the shots we were getting in the first half. … We were trying to grind it out, but those 3s were backbreakers.”
Nolte hit another jumper during a surge and suddenly, with five minutes remaining, Virginia led 60-50.
By then, the Chanticleers were out of sorts.
“It’s an atmosphere (that) I don’t think we’re all used to,” Wilson said.
Virginia began the second half on a 9-2 burst, aided by Brodgon’s five points during the stretch. Harris hit a 3-pointer and the Cavaliers were up 42-38 before Coastal Carolina regrouped.
“We knew our defense was going to pick it up,” Gill said. “It was just a matter of what point.”
The Chanticleers shot 32 percent from the field in the second half.
Coastal Carolina led 35-30 at halftime, buoyed by shooting 52 percent from the field (13 of 25) and a 16-11 advantage in rebounding.
Coastal Carolina opened a 31-21 lead with four minutes left in the first half. A 6-0 run near the end of the half helped Virginia get some traction.
The Chanticleers suffered a blow when Gillis picked up his third foul with 1:14 to play in the half. Ellis said he noticed his team become tentative at times as fouls mounted in the backcourt.
Coastal Carolina, which is located in Conway, S.C., landed in the tournament field by winning the Big South Conference tournament.
NOTES: Virginia was awarded a No. 1 regional seed for the fourth time, but for the first time since 1983. … Coastal Carolina’s Cliff Ellis is the 10th coach in Division I history to lead four different programs to the NCAA Tournament,
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