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UVa. women’s basketball rallies, defeats Virginia Tech, 67-60

The UVa. women’s basketball team (8-7, 1-1 ACC) overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat Virginia Tech (10-5, 0-2 ACC) 67-60 Thursday night at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.

uva-vt1Virginia trailed by 17 points in the first half and faced a 12-point deficit, 49-37, with 13:41 remaining in the game. After initially tying the game on a layup from senior guard Ataira Franklin (Bowie, Md.) with 3:51 remaining, the Cavaliers trailed by two points, 60-58, going into the final two minutes of the game. Virginia scored nine points in the final 1:42, including seven points by Franklin, to earn its first conference win of the season.

“I am just really excited to get the win and really proud of my team,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “I am really proud of the win, but more so I am proud of the fight that they had to come back.”

Franklin finished the game with 23 points, with 19 of those coming in the second half. Senior guard Kelsey Wolfe (Germantown, Md.) scored 12 points, going 4-of-8 from the field. Junior center Sarah Imovbioh (Abuja, Nigeria) had a game-high 14 rebounds.

Virginia Tech’s Uju Ugoka scored 24 points, with 17 of those coming before halftime. Monet Tellier scored 10 points, making 4-of-5 field goal attempts.

The Hokies opened up the game on a 20-3 run, with Tellier scoring nine of those points. The Cavaliers made just one of their first 11 field goal attempts while Virginia Tech opened the game making 9 of its first 16 shots.

Virginia went on an 8-2 run during the first half to narrow the gap with redshirt freshman guard Raeshaun Gaffney (Fairfield, Ohio) providing half of those points. Sophomore guard Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) hit a jumper with three seconds left in half to go into the break trailing by 10, 36-26.

The Cavaliers started the second half with a trio of made-threes, including a pair from Franklin, but the Hokies kept pace, keeping a 10-point differential, 45-35, five minutes into the second period. The Cavaliers chipped away at the lead, pulling to within two, 54-52, after back-to-back steals by redshirt senior guard Lexie Gerson (Fort Washington, Pa.) translated into a jumper from Randolph and an and-one for Gerson.

Franklin completed the initial comeback, tying the game, 58-58, with a layup with 3:51 left in the game. Franklin knotted the game at 60 after getting an offensive rebound off own her own miss and making the put back.

After Virginia Tech was whistled for an offensive foul with 1:18 remaining, Gerson found Franklin in the low post on the opposite end. Franklin hit a jumper, getting fouled on the play to put the Cavaliers up three. After a Virginia Tech miss, Gerson again connected with Franklin for a layup to make it a four-point game with 36 seconds remaining. Gerson grabbed a steal eight seconds later, this time finding Imovbioh in the paint to give UVa a 67-60 lead with 19 seconds remaining.

Virginia outscored Tech 41-24 in the second half. The Hokies did not make a field goal in the final 7:28 of the game.

The Cavaliers forced 22 Hokie turnovers with UVa scoring 25 points off those miscues. Virginia finished the game with nine steals with Gerson accounting for four of those.

Virginia will now play four straight games against ranked opponents including taking on three squads currently ranked in the top-10. The Cavaliers will host No. 2 Notre Dame on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers will play at No. 3 Duke (Jan. 16), at home against No. 18 Florida State (Jan. 19) before traveling to No. 6 Maryland (Jan. 23).

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