Virginia plays Thursday at VCU in WNIT First Round

virginia basketballThe Virginia women’s basketball team (16-15, 6-10 ACC) opens the 2016 Women’s National Invitation Tournament by taking on VCU (23-9, 11-6 Atlantic 10) on Thursday, March 17 at 7 p.m. in Richmond, Va.

Additionally, all of the 2015-16 Virginia women’s basketball games – home and away – are available locally on NewsRadio 1070 AM and 98.9 FM WINA and streaming online at wina.com and VirginiaSports.com with John Freeman calling the action.

The winner of this game will advance to play the winner of Rutgers and Georgetown with date and location to be determined later.

This is the Cavaliers’ sixth overall WNIT appearance and their second-consecutive. Virginia has made four trips to the quarterfinals (2006, 2007, 2011, 2012), but fell in the first round last season with a 59-52 loss at Old Dominion.  Guard Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) scored 17 point with six assists in the loss to the Monarchs.

The Cavaliers finished the regular-season tied for ninth place in the ACC, earning the No. 9 seed in the tournament and a first-round bye by virtue of wining a tiebreaker with Wake Forest. The Cavaliers lost to Duke in the tournament’s second round, 57-53.

The Cavaliers, who suffered a six-game losing streak while senior guard Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) was sidelined with a broken thumb, had won three of four games after Randolph’s return to the starting lineup before dropping their last two contests, including the regular-season finale at Virginia Tech. Randolph is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.7 points per game, as well as being second on the team in rebounding, averaging 4.8 per game.

Randolph comes into the game with 1,289 career points, eight points shy of tying Ariana Moorer (2009-12) at No. 20 on the Virginia career points list.

Sophomore guard Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds in the ACC Tournament loss to Duke. It was the first time since scoring 13 points against Richmond on Dec. 29 that Huland El led the Cavaliers in scoring, but was the second time in the last three games that she had the team-high rebounds. Huland El grabbed seven boards in the win over North Carolina.

Virginia is 14-6 all-time against VCU and has won the last 12 meetings, but this is the first time the two teams have faced one another since 1998.

VCU is headed to postseason play for the seventh time in program history.

VCU finished the season ranking first in the A-10 in scoring defense (55.2), rebounding defense (32.4), steals (8.5), turnover margin (+3.75), turnovers forced (17.31) and free throw attempts. The Rams have the 27th best scoring defense in the nation. They are also among the top-50 teams in turnover and rebound margins.

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