Late free throws lift UVA women’s basketball past Wake Forest, 72-70

uva womens basketballThe UVA women’s basketball team (12-3, 2-0 ACC) earned a 72-70 victory over Wake Forest (9-7, 0-2 ACC) on Thursday (Jan. 8) at John Paul Jones Arena.

Freshman guard Mikayla Venson (Arlington, Va.) scored 10 of her 21 points in the final 2:32 of the game, including hitting a pair of free throws with 1.0 seconds remaining, to erase a five-point deficit and lead the Cavaliers to their second-straight ACC win to start conference play.

“I could not be more proud of the fight and effort from these girls,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “We had some let downs, but there was no quit in this team. Mikayla Venson stepped up and hit some big shots down the stretch and with the help of her teammates, we came out with a big win.”

Virginia led by 13 points, 36-23, with 4:25 remaining in the first half, but a hot-shooting Wake Forest team tied the game with 13:43 remaining and built up a nine-point lead, 60-51, with 7:27 left in the game.

Trailing by five points heading into the final two minutes of the game, Venson hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Virginia a one-point lead, 71-70, with 1:05 remaining. Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby tied the game by making one of two free throws with 46 seconds left. With the game still tied and 17.2 seconds on the clock, Hamby attempted a layup that was blocked by freshman forward Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.), but the ball went out of bounds with Wake Forest getting possession. As the Demon Deacons struggled to find an open look at the basket, senior center Sarah Imovbioh (Abuja, Nigeria) stole the ball with four seconds remaining, passing it up ahead to Venson who took off on a fast break. Venson was fouled heading to the basket with one second remaining, sending her to the free throw line for two shots. The freshman made both, giving Virginia a 72-70 advantage.

Wake Forest inbounded the ball with Hamby putting up a three-point shot at the buzzer that clanged off the iron.

“Tonight was just a blur and such an adrenaline rush,” Venson said. “At the end, I knew those were big shots and my team really needed me. When I got fouled, there was one second left and I knew I needed to knock them down. I took a minute to step off the line and gave myself a little pep talk before I went back and knocked them down.”

Hamby finished the game with 27 points, going 12-of-18 from the field, with six rebounds. Amber Campbell scored 18 points with eight rebounds.

Virginia had four players finish in double-digits. Venson, who went 5-of-10 from three-point range, had the second 20-point game of her career. Sophomore guard Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) scored 12 points with three assists, two rebounds and a steal. Freshman guard Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) scored 12 points. Junior guard Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) scored 11 points.

Wake Forest scored 52 of its 70 points in the paint, while Virginia scored 20. The Demon Deacons outrebounded the Cavaliers 37-34.

The Cavaliers will finish off the week playing at No. 21 Syracuse on Sunday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m., the first time this season UVa will take on a ranked opponent. Virginia returns home next Thursday, Jan. 15, hosting Boston College at 7 p.m.

Single-game ticket prices for all home games are $10 for Reserved seating, $8 for adult General Admission and $6 for youth (18 & under), senior (60 & over) and UVa faculty/staff General Admission. Fans may purchase home game tickets through the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office online at VirginiaSports.com, by phone and in person. The Virginia Athletics Ticket Office is located in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium and openMonday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Telephone purchases can be made by calling 1-800-542-UVA1 (8821) or locally at 434-924-UVA1 (8821).


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