The Virginia women’s basketball team (6-6) defeated Coppin State (4-7) 70-45 Saturday afternoon (Dec. 28) in the Cavalier Classic Tournament Presented by Holiday Inn University Area.
Virginia will take on Princeton in the tournament championship game on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 2:30 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. Coppin State will face Alabama in the consolation final at 12 p.m.
“I’m excited for the team,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “We came out of the gates a little slow, but picked it up in the second half and played a really good second half. It is nice to come into your own tournament and get a win.”
Freshman guard Tiffany Suarez (Miami, Fla.) had her second-straight double-digit scoring effort, leading the Cavaliers with a career-high 16 points, going 7-of-10 from the field, and dishing a team-high six assists. Junior center Sarah Imovbioh (Abuja, Nigeria) scored 13 points, going 5-of-8 from the field. Senior guard Ataira Franklin scored 12 points, all in the first half, with a team-high eight rebounds.
Coppin State’s Kyra Coleman led the Eagles with 16 points, including scoring nine of the Eagles’ first 11 points. Larrisa Carter had 14 points, going 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
Virginia opened the game making just five of its first 23 shots (21.7 percent), including a stretch of missing 10 straight field goal attempts. Trailing 17-14 with six minutes left in the first half, the Cavaliers went on a 14-0 run, capped by a steal and fastbreak layup by Suarez, to go up 28-17. A pair of free throws from Franklin with 1.1 seconds remaining in the half, her 11 and 12th points of the period, sent the Cavaliers into the break with a 32-21 lead.
Coppin State cut the lead to seven, 36-29, with 15:38 left in the game. Back-to-back layups from Imovbioh increased the UVa advantage back to double-digits, 40-29, with 14:13 remaining. The Cavaliers would lead by double digits for the remainder of the game, outscoring the Eagles 38-24 in the period.
Coppin State turned the ball over 23 times in the game, with Virginia scoring 28 points off the Eagles’ miscues. The Cavaliers forced five turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, scoring their first seven points off turnovers.
After starting the game ice cold from the floor, Virginia connected on six of its final eight field goal attempts in the first half and shot 52.0 percent in the second half to finish the game 24-of-56 (42.9 percent). Coppin State shot 20.0 percent in the second half and finished the game 16-of-55 from the field (29.1 percent).
Virginia outrebounded Coppin State, 46-33, with all 11 Cavaliers who played in the game grabbing at least one rebound.
In the opening game of the tournament, Princeton defeated Alabama, 79-59. Kristen Helmstetter led Princeton with 21 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Tigers, one of four Tigers to score in double digits. The Crimson Tide had three players finish in double digits, including Ashley Williams with 21 points and six rebounds.
Virginia has captured 23 of 27 Cavalier Classic team titles since the tournament began in 1976 and has won the championship each of the last nine years.