Women’s basketball: UVA tips off season Friday at Middle Tennessee

uva womens basketballThe Virginia women’s basketball team will open the 2015-16 season on Friday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Central Time (7:30 p.m. ET), playing at Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Virginia’s starting lineup will feature four of the same five starters as last season, a change from the 2014-15 opener in which the Cavaliers had an opening day lineup featuring just one player who had started more than half of the games in 2013-14.

Guards sophomore Mikayla Venson (Arlington, Va.) and junior Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) started every game last season, while senior guard Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) and sophomore forward Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.) each started 30 of 31 games.

Venson, a member of the 2015 ACC All-Freshman team, set the UVA freshman class record for made-threes in a season with 61. Mason, who was voted onto the 2015 ACC All-Academic team, was fourth in the conference with a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. Moses led the team in blocked shots (34).

Randolph, who only started a combined 11 games in her first two seasons while still playing over 20 minutes a game, led the Cavaliers in scoring last season, averaging 16.4 points per game. Randolph had a breakout game in last year’s season-opener against Ohio State, scoring 25 points. Randolph, a second-team All-ACC honoree last year and a member of this year’s preseason All-ACC team, closed the regular-season just as strong, posting back-to-back 20-point performances with 24 points in the buzzer-beater loss at No. 15 North Carolina and 23 points in the upset win over No. 8 Louisville.

In addition to the four veteran starters, UVA has two more returners who averaged more than 17 minutes a game last season. Junior forward Sydney Umeri (Acworth, Ga.) started 11 games her freshman season and appeared in all 31 games last season, averaging 2.7 points and 3.2 rebounds. Sophomore wing Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.)  averaged 5.6 points per game with 24 steals.

Virginia’s new faces include four freshmen post players, including

Moné Jones (Durham, N.C.), ESPN-W’s No. 11 recruit at her position and No. 61 overall and redshirt sophomore guard J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.), who sat out last season after transferring from East Carolina.

Virginia starts off the season the same way it ended the 2014-15 campaign, by facing a Conference USA team. The Blue Raiders have been picked to finish first in C-USA this season, their second time topping the poll since moving over from the Sun Belt Conference in 2013-14. The Cavaliers finished last season with a 69-62 loss at C-USA’s Old Dominion. Middle Tennessee finished second in the conference in 2014-15 with a 14-4 mark and ODU finished tied for fourth at 11-7.

Middle Tennessee returns eight letterwinners and three starters from last season’s team that reached the quarterfinals of the WNIT and fashioned 24 wins. The Blue Raiders also welcome five new players in 2015-16. Middle Tennessee has been pegged as the preseason favorite to win C-USA’s regular-season in 2015-16. Additionally, junior guard/forward Olivia Jones was voted the Preseason Player of the Year by league coaches.

This will be the second-ever meeting between the two teams. Virginia won 79-63 on Jan. 2, 2006 in Charlottesville. This is the Cavaliers first-ever trip to Murfreesboro.

Virginia has won nine of its last 10 season-openers, including an 87-82 victory over Ohio State last season at John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia opened the 2014-15 campaign 4-0 that included battling for a tough road win at Xavier, 71-62.

The Cavaliers have been voted to finish eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the official 2015-16 Blue Ribbon Panel ACC Preseason Poll as well in a polling of the ACC head coaches.

Virginia will play its first home game of the season on Monday, Nov. 16 when it hosts Norfolk State at 7 p.m.

Single-game ticket prices for all home games are $10 for Reserved seating, $8 for adult General Admission and $6 for youth (18 & under), senior (60 & over) and UVA faculty/staff General Admission. Fans may purchase home game tickets through the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office online at VirginiaSports.com, by phone and in person. The Virginia Athletics Ticket Office is located in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium and openMonday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Telephone purchases can be made by calling 1-800-542-UVA1 (8821) or locally at 434-924-UVA1 (8821).



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