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Virginia women’s basketball falls 73-53 to Michigan in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge

The Virginia women’s basketball team (3-5) lost its fourth game in a row, falling 73-53 to Michigan (6-3) in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge game Thursday night (Dec. 5) at John Paul Jones Arena.

uva-logo-new2“I’m just disappointed,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “I wanted to finish this stretch heading into finals in a better place. Michigan is a very high-octane offense. They move the ball well and make you play 30 seconds of defense. You have to be able to take things away, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Michigan shot 53.8 percent in the game, while the Cavaliers finished at 33.3 percent. Michigan started the second half making 9 of its first 13 baskets, shooting 76.9 percent. They finished the period shooting 52.0 percent.

Michigan outrebounded the Cavaliers 41-27.

Virginia junior center Sarah Imovbioh (Abuja, Nigeria) scored 13 points, with all but one coming in the second half. Freshman forward Sydney Umeri (Acworth, Ga.) had a career-high eight rebounds with eight points.

Michigan forward Cyesha Goree scored a game-high 20 points with seven rebounds before fouling out, one of four Wolverines to finish the game in double-figures. Guard Nicole Elmblad scored 12 points, going 6-of-7 from the field, with eight rebounds. Guard Madison Ritovski scored 13 points with nine assists.

Michigan started the game making seven of its first 11 shots while the Cavaliers went 2-for-12 in the first eight minutes, falling behind 16-6. After the Wolverines had extended the lead to 10, the Cavaliers chipped away with freshman Tiffany Suarez (Miami, Fla.) hitting a free throw line-jumper, the first points of her career, while getting fouled to convert the and-one and cut the lead to three, 18-15.

Michigan answered with a 6-0 run, eventually pushing the lead back to double digits, 28-18, with 3:28 remaining.

After a pair of free throws from Umeri, her fifth and sixth points of the period, cut the deficit to eight, 28-20, with just under two minutes left in the period, Michigan scored eight points, going 3-of-3 from the field, to go into halftime with a 36-20 lead.

Michigan started the second half making six of its first eight field goal attempts and 3-of-3 from three-point range, extending the lead out to 22, 51-29, in the first five minutes of the period. Virginia also started the second half with solid shooting, making five of its first ten field goal attempts, including three-pointers from senior Kelsey Wolfe (Germantown, Md.) and freshman Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.), but couldn’t keep pace with the Wolverines.

The Cavaliers, who had won their Challenge games in each of the last two years, now have a 5-2 record all-time record in the event. Michigan improves to 5-2 in Challenge games.

The Cavaliers will now take a 12-day break for finals, returning to action on Tuesday, Dec. 17 when they host Maryland Eastern Shore at 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.

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