Virginia rallies for 52-50 win at VCU in the WNIT First Round

virginia basketballThe Virginia women’s basketball team (17-15, 6-10 ACC) advanced to the second round of the 2016 Women’s National Invitation Tournament with a 52-50 victory over VCU (23-10, 11-6 Atlantic 10) on Thursday, (March 17) in Richmond, Va.

The Cavaliers trailed by nine points, 48-39, with 6:15 remaining, erasing the remainder of the deficit on a three-pointer from redshirt sophomore J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) with 1:42 remaining. After a score by the Rams, senior Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) retied the game by hitting a jumper with 39 seconds remaining. Randolph then grabbed a steal, giving the Cavaliers the possession with the shot clock off. Randolph drove to the rim, taking a shot with 1.8 second remaining and drawing a foul on the attempt. Randolph headed to the line and made both free throws to put the Cavaliers ahead 52-50. VCU took a timeout and advanced the ball, taking a desperation three at the buzzer that fell short of the rim.

“We knew that we needed to get stops down the stretch,” Randolph said. “Lauren Moses kept telling us throughout the game ‘Don’t give up. Don’t give up.’ That’s what we did. We went out, got stops and were able to convert on the other end.”

The Cavaliers will play at Rutgers in the second round on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m.

Randolph finished the game with 21 points, going 7-of-15 overall and 3-of-6 from three-point range. Randolph also had five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Brown and sophomore Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) each scored eight points.

Galaisha Goodhope led VCU with 12 points. Jessica Ogunnorin scored nine points with 11 rebounds.

Virginia shot 37.0 percent (17-of-46) while VCU shot 35.1 percent (20-of-57). The Rams outrebounded the Cavaliers 40-28, including holding a 7-1 advantage in the first five minutes.

“This was a really exciting win,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “VCU is a great team who was a very tough opponent. I am very proud and thankful to come away with a win.”

The Rams went on a 7-0 run in the first quarter to take a 15-10 lead. Randolph hit a three-pointer with 22 seconds left in the period to make it an 18-15 deficit heading into the second quarter. VCU was held scoreless for the first 3:30 of the second quarter with a jumper just inside the three-point line from sophomore Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) giving the Cavaliers a 19-18 lead with 8:12 remaining in the half. Virginia lead 23-22 when VCU mounted a 7-0 run. Randolph ended a 3:46 UVA scoring drought when she hit a three-pointer with 31.4 seconds remaining, sending the Cavaliers into the break down 30-26.

The Rams scored the first six points of the second half with Randolph ending a 4:19 second scoring drought with a pull-up jumper. VCU outscored the Cavaliers 13-8 in the third quarter to extend its lead to 43-34 heading into the fourth.

Virginia trailed by 11 points, 47-36, with 7:32 remaining. A pair of free throws from Brown started a 9-2 Virginia run that included four-straight points from Randolph. Virginia outscored VCU 18-7 in the fourth quarter.

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.

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