Women’s basketball: UVA advances to ACC Tournament quarterfinals
The eight-seed UVA women’s basketball team (19-11, 7-9 ACC) picked up a 61-44 victory over nine-seed Wake Forest (15-15, 6-10 ACC) on Thursday (March 2) in the second round of the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament, being held at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C.
Virginia will take on top-seeded Notre Dame (27-3, 15-1 ACC) on Friday, March 3 at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
The Cavaliers went on a 17-2 run in the first quarter and continued to expand on that base, building up a 22-point lead in the third quarter. The Cavaliers scored 34 points in the paint and outrebounded the Deacons, 40-37. The Cavalier defense limited Wake Forest to 25.4 percent shooting (16-of-63).
Freshman guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) finished the game with a team-high 17 points. Freshman center Felicia Aiyeotan (Lagos, Nigeria) scored 10 points with five rebounds and six blocked shots.
Elisa Penna led the Demon Deacons with 12 points. Alex Sharp grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
“I’m excited to get the win,” head coach Joanne Boyle said. “You know, it’s March basketball tournament time. Some of the best basketball is being played right now. Our team has been preparing for this moment, and it was a great game. Jen [Hoover] has done an unbelievable job coaching her team. They’ve had some real good success this year. A lot of the offense we had today was created because of our really good defense and our rebounding. It was a battle, but really pleased with how we played today. I’m really proud of how they really dialed into the message that was delivered this week, and all credit goes to them because they executed it.”
Wake Forest’s Ariel Stephenson opened the game by hitting a three but back-to-back jumpers from Willoughby started UVA’s 17-2 run. After Milan Quinn made a layup, Willoughby answered with one of her own on the opposite end. After Willoughby missed a pair of free throws on UVA’s next possession, junior guar Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) grabbed the offensive rebound, kicking the ball out to junior guard J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) on the wing who drained a three-pointer. After a layup from Aiyeotan, Brown intercepted an inbounds pass to set up a Willoughby layup. Brown scored a layup on the fast break to finish up 13-straight points for UVA and seven-consecutive made field goals. The Cavaliers led 19-8 heading into the second quarter.
The Demon Deacons scored the first two baskets of the second period, keeping the Cavaliers off the scoreboard through the first half of the period. Senior guard Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) hit a three-pointer with 4:58 left in the half to end the drought. UVA and Wake each only scored six points in the period, sending Virginia into the break with a 25-14 lead.
A layup from Aiyeotan, scored while a Wake defender was interlocked in one of her arms, flanked by jumpers from freshman guard Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Mason, comprised a 6-0 run for Virginia to start the second half. A pair of Willoughby free throws with 4:40 remaining built the UVA lead up to 20, 37-17. Brown and Huland El drove to the hoop and converted and-ones in back-to-back possessions to boost the advantage to 43-21.
The Cavaliers entered the fourth quarter with a 47-31 lead. Virginia got off to a slow start with Aiyeotan scoring its first field goal with 6:35 remaining, but the Cavaliers built up a 53-37 advantage with just under five minutes left in the game.
The two teams made a combined five three-pointers, with UVA going 2-of-8 and Wake 3-of-15 from beyond the arc.
All of the 2016-17 Virginia women’s basketball games – home and away – are available locally on the radio on NewsRadio 1070 AM and 98.9 FM WINA with Luke Neer providing the play-by-play. The game will also stream be televised on the ACC Regional Sports Networks.
Virginia is the No. 8 seed in the tournament, its highest seeding since earning the No. 6 seed in 2013. Virginia has won the ACC Tournament three times, its last title coming in 1993. UVA’s last appearance in the title game was in 1994 and its last trip to the semifinals came in 2008.