A pair of three pointers by Kelsey Wolfe (Jr., Germantown, Md.) in the final two minutes helped the Virginia women’s basketball team seal a 54-44 victory over Coppin State Tuesday night (Dec. 18) at John Paul Jones Arena.
The Cavaliers were trailing 40-33 with just under eight minutes left in the game, but outscored Coppin State 21-4 down the stretch to earn the victory. Wolfe scored 11 points during the run, including hitting a three-pointer with six minutes remaining to narrow the gap to three points, 40-37. Wolfe drained back-to-back threes in the final two minutes to extend the lead to double digits.
“The coaches and my teammates have confidence in me just to keep shooting,” Wolfe said. “China [Crosby] set me up really well both times and I just had to knock them down. They were big shots, but if I’m open, I’m going to shoot them.”
The game featured eight ties and nine lead changes. Through the first 31 minutes of the game, neither team managed to hold more than a four-point advantage.
Both teams began the game playing zone defenses, with Coppin State answering the challenge with an outside shooting attack, scoring its first 12 points on jumpers from beyond the arc. The Eagles did not score a single point inside the three-point line in the first ten minutes of the game.
The Cavaliers, however, chose to attack the zone by pounding the ball inside, with just two of their first 16 points coming from jumpers outside the paint. Virginia also crashed the boards, outrebounding Coppin State 21-8 in the first half.
After three early lead changes, the game was tied, 16-16, when Simone Egwu (Sr., Odenton, Md.) set UVa up to take the lead, zipping a pass across the arc to a wide-open China Crosby (Sr., New York, N.Y) who drained a three-pointer from the bottom right corner to give the Cavaliers a 19-16 lead.
The Eagles would use the long-ball to retake the lead, 23-22, with just over four minutes left in the period. After the two squads took turns gaining an advantage, the teams were knotted, 24-24, with Telia McCall (Sr., Marietta, Ga.) grabbing a rebound with 18 seconds remaining in the half. McCall dished the ball out to Crosby, who dribbled the ball up the court to the top of the key, watching the clock tick down before driving to the hoop and scoring a layup in the final seconds to send Virginia into the break with the two-point lead, 26-24.
The second half began with the same seesaw battle with the two teams knotting the score three times. Coppin State edged out to a 32-29 lead with 14 minutes remaining. The Eagles drained another three to extend the advantage to 35-29 with 13 minutes remaining. Jaryn Garner (Fr., Sewell, N.J.) grabbed a steal, racing down court to score the fast break layup to end the Coppin State run. After a missed three-pointer by the Eagles, Virginia answered by finding Egwu in the low post, pulling within two, 35-33.
After Coppin State extended the lead to 40-34, Wolfe hit her first three-pointer to send momentum in the Cavaliers’ favor. After a pair of key turnovers by the Eagles, including being called for a charge, Virginia tied the game on a jumper by McCall. Another low-post feed to Egwu gave UVa a 42-40 lead with four minutes left in the game.
After Coppin State retied the game at the free throw line, Wolfe drove through the lane, laying the ball into the basket to put Virginia back up by two, 44-42, with 3:20 remaining. After a Coppin State missed basket, the Cavaliers raced down the court, finding Egwu down low to push the lead out to 46-42 with 2:37 left in the game.
Back-to-back three-pointers from the right corner by Wolfe gave Virginia the first double-digit lead of the game, 52-42, with 1:18 remaining.
The Cavaliers held on for the victory, improving to 6-3 (0-1 ACC) on the season. Coppin State fell to 3-7 (0-0 MEAC).
“I think we figured out their defense in the second half,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “We had to make layups and take a deep breath. Towards the end, we got everything we wanted, but I don’t know where that was earlier in the game. We are letting our defense affect our offense, and our offense affect our defense. I think we need to get out of that mold.”
Wolfescored a game-high 14 points, 12 coming in the second half. It was her fourth double-digit scoring effort of the season.
Egwu had her first double double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. She had seven points and seven rebounds in the second half.
McCall had her first double-digit rebounding performance of the season, pulling in 13 boards, playing all 40 minutes of the game.
Faith Randolph (Fr., Derwood, Md.) got the first start of her career. Randolph jumped on the opportunity early, getting a steal on the first possession of the game. Randolph also scored the Cavaliers first points of the game, drawing a foul and converting a pair offree throws. She finished the game with six points, four rebounds, two steals, and an assist.
Randolph filled an opening in the starting lineup with Ataira Franklin (Jr., Bowie, Md.) sitting out the gameafter sustaining a mild concussion in practice last week. Jazmin Pitts (Jr., Mosely, Va.) was also sidelined with a concussion.
The Cavaliers have one final game before Christmas, heading to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide on Friday, Dec. 21 at 3 p.m. ET. After another short break, Virginia will host the Cavalier Classic presented by Holiday Inn University Area. This year’s tournament, held on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 28-29, features Norfolk State, Northern Illinois and Xavier. The Cavaliers will play in the 7 p.m. game each day. They open the tournament taking on Norfolk State and then will face the winner of Northern Illinois and Xavier in the tournament finale.