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Virginia women’s basketball downs Florida Gulf Coast, 85-56

The Virginia women’s basketball team (5-6) defeated Florida Gulf Coast (6-5), 85-56 in the finale of the FGCU Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.

uva-logo-new2Virginia made nine consecutive three-point attempts in the first half, finishing the period shooting 90.0 percent (9 of 10) from long range. Six different Cavaliers made at least one three-pointer in the game with senior guard Kelsey Wolfe (Germantown, Md.) connecting on 4-of-7. Wolfe finished the game with 14 points, three assists, a rebound and a steal.

“We needed a game like this,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “We got some good momentum going and things were just really falling for us. I think this was our best game of the season, both offensively and defensively.”

Senior guard Ataira Franklin (Bowie, Md.) scored 14 points, going 3-of-5 from three-point range and 5-of-9 from the field. Franklin also had six rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

Playing in her home state, freshman guard Tiffany Suarez (Miami, Fla.) scored a career-high 13 points with three assists and two rebounds.

Florida Gulf Coast had three players finish in double figures, led by Kaneisha Atwater with 13 points. Whitney White scored 11 points and Stephanie Haas had 10 points. Sarah Hansen scored six points with seven assists and five rebounds.

The Eagles started the game making seven of their first 10 field goal attempts, jumping out to a 22-11 lead with 15:42remaining in the first half.

A three-pointer from Franklin began a 14-2 UVa run that was capped by Wolfe’s second three-pointer of the game, giving Virginia its first lead, 25-24 with 8:51 left in the half. After FGCU tied the game and took a brief one-point lead, the Cavaliers scored 12 straight points, including treys from Franklin, Wolfe and redshirt freshman guard Raeshaun Gaffney (Fairfield, Ohio) to take a 37-26 lead with 3:43 left in the first. Virginia led 46-37 at the break.

The Cavaliers started the second half on a 12-0 run while FGCU did not make a field goal until the 12:02 mark of the period. The Eagles only made five field goals in the second half, shooting 22.7 percent. Virginia outscored FGCU 39-19 in the second half.

The Cavaliers played much of the game with a five-guard lineup with the forwards playing a combined eight minutes in the first half without taking a shot until the 10:33 mark of the second period.

Gaffney finished the game with seven points, six rebounds and three steals. Sophomore guard Jaryn Garner (Sewell, N.J.) scored a season-high eight points with three rebounds and a steal.

After a short break for Christmas, the Cavaliers will return to action when they host the Holiday Inn University Area Cavalier Classic, featuring Coppin State, Alabama and Princeton, Dec. 28-29 at John Paul Jones Arena.

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