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UVa. women open with 78-57 win over JMU

The Virginia women’s basketball team opened the season with a 78-57 victory over James Madison. Sophomore forward Sarah Imovbioh had a double double with 21 points and 10 rebounds in her collegiate debut.

Senior point guard China Crosby, in her first game back after suffering an ACL tear in a December 2011 game against JMU, scored five of Virginia’s first nine points, driving through the lane for a layup and pulling up for a three to give theCavaliers an early 9-8 lead.

The Duke’s Kirby Burkholder single-handedly kept her team in the game, draining five three-pointers in the first 12 minutes, staking the visitors to a 19-17 lead.

Redshirt sophomore forward Sarah Beth Barnette, making her Virginia debut, fought hard down low to stick in a third-chance point, putting the Cavaliers up 21-19.

JamesMadison tied the game, 21-21, with 5:44 left in the first half. It would be the last points they would score in the period.

Sophomore Sarah Imovbioh, making her collegiate debut, got a fastbreak, converting the layup on the opposite end to make it 23-21. Junior guard Kelsey Wolfe drovebaseline with three defenders on her, laying in the ball for a 25-21 score.Freshman Faith Randolph converted a scoop shot as she was getting fouled, using the and-one to make it 28-21.

The Cavaliers added 11 more points to head to the break on an 18-0 run, leading 39-21.

The Dukes didn’t find a quick answer early in the second half, with Virginia extending it to a 26-3 run before Burkholder caught fire again. The JMU guard hit her seventh three to pull her team within 14, 49-35. She began the game 7-of-10 from three-point range.

The Cavaliers began pounding the ball into the low post to Imovbioh. The freshman scored eight points in a span of two-and-a-half minutes, pushing the lead out to 55-40.

Ataira Franklin drained a late three, helping the Cavaliers take a 70-46 lead with 2:34 remaining.

The Dukes never threatened again, with Virginia holding on for the season-opening victory.

“I thought it was a great game for us,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “I thought we had a will to a win, a lot of fight in us. I thought we did a really good job on the boards tonight – it was our Achilles heel all last year. I thought they really responded to doing all the little things. It was just a really good opening game for us.”

Imovbioh was a late addition to the starting lineup. Senior Simone Egwu was diagnosed with a stress reaction in her left shin late in the week. Egwu, who was the projected starter, will miss the next three weeks. Imovbioh finished the game with a team-high 21 points, going 8-for-9 from the field. She also added a game-high 10 rebounds.

“I knew that I had to step up to fill Simone’s shoes and do the little things,” Imovbioh said. “At the beginning I was kind of nervous, but when the game into me, I just wanted to play and have fun. I feel like I am still getting there, still getting better. I’m trying to move it up. I’m still learning and I’m enjoying the process.”

Franklin scored 20 points, going 7-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. She also had five steals. Crosby scored eight points with four assists and four steals.

Barnette also scored indouble digits in her Cavalier debut, going 5-for-7 from the field for 10 points.

Virginia will be back in action on Monday, Nov. 12 when they face Penn at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia. The Cavaliers return home on Sunday, Nov. 18 when they host Providence at 2 p.m.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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