Women’s basketball: Virginia downs Georgia Tech 60-58 in ACC Tournament

uva basketballThe No. 7-seed Virginia women’s basketball team (18-12, 10-6 ACC) picked up a 60-58 victory over 10-seed Georgia Tech (18-13, 6-10 ACC) on Thursday (March 1) in the second round of the 2018 Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament, being held at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.

The Cavaliers advance to play second-seeded Notre Dame (27-2, 15-1 ACC) on Friday, March 2 at 6 p.m. The Irish earned a double-bye into Friday’s quarterfinals.

Georgia Tech led for 34:27 of the game and Virginia trailed by eight points, 53-45, with eight minutes remaining in the game. The Cavaliers mounted a 10-0 run in the quarter to erase the deficit, including five points from sophomore guard Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.), and took its first lead, 55-53, on a three-pointer from Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) at 5:13.

Kierra Fletcher’s three-point play put the Yellow Jackets back on top with 3:52 to go, before senior forward Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.) scored twice for Virginia for a 59-56 lead with just under a minute to play. Fletcher made it a one-point game with 35.6 seconds remaining. Virginia ran the clock down before both teams had quick turnovers, the Cavaliers getting ball back when Moses drew a charge with 3.5 seconds remaining to hold on for the victory.

Huland El finished with 19 points, going 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line. Moses scored 12 points with nine rebounds, going 4-of-4 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Toussaint scored 14 points with five assists.

Francesca Pan led the Yellow Jackets with 25 points.

“What a great basketball game, and I am just so proud of my team for again, just being resilient down the stretch and finding a way to win,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “I give a lot of credit to Georgia Tech. They are a great team. They have been playing some great basketball here as of late, but that was a hard-fought basketball game by both teams. I just felt like we were just a little bit calmer and a little bit more confident down the stretch. I thought we were screening better, we were taking balls into screens better. We just didn’t panic and I thought the ball went side to side a little bit better those last eight minutes.”

After trading baskets early in the first quarter, both teams fell into a four-minute scoring drought, broken up by a jumper from sophomore guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) with three minutes left in the quarter. The Cavaliers converted their final three field goal attempts of the quarter, including a three-pointer from redshirt senior guard J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) with six seconds left in the quarter to cut Georgia Tech’s lead to 18-16.

Huland El tied the game at 18 ten seconds into the second quarter, but Georgia Tech scored five straight points to retake the lead. The Cavaliers snapped a three-minute drought in the period when sophomore center Felicia Aiyeotan (Lagos, Nigeria) made a layup with 3:23 remaining. Toussaint followed with a layup to bring the Cavaliers to within three, 30-27, with 2:47 left in the period. The Yellow Jackets answered by scoring four points on a jumper and a pair of free throws, but Moses hit a layup with 24 seconds remaining to send the Cavaliers into the locker room trailing 34-29.

Both teams started the second half slow, combining to go 1-of-14 from the field. After UVA scored its first five points of the period from the free throw line, Moses snapped an 0-of-9 shooting streak by converting a layup with four minutes remaining in the period. After a Toussaint three and a free throw from Willoughby, the Cavaliers narrowed a once nine-point deficit to five, but the Yellow Jackets scored the final three points of the period and took a 48-40 lead into the fourth quarter.

Toussaint started a fourth-quarter rally for the Cavaliers, converting a layup with 7:18 remaining and then following with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 53-52. Huland El drained a three-pointer from the right corner to put the Cavaliers in the lead for the first time since the first quarter, 55-53, heading into the final five minutes of the game. An and-one by the Yellow Jackets ended the Cavaliers’ 10-0 run and put Georgia Tech back up 56-55 with 3:52 remaining. Moses converted a layup with 2:44 remaining to give the Cavaliers a 57-56 lead. Moses added to the lead, scoring a third-chance layup with 53 seconds remaining to put the Cavaliers up 59-56. Georgia Tech hit a jumper to make it a one-point game. The Cavaliers had possession with 35 seconds remaining, but Pan grabbed a steal with seven seconds remaining to give possession back to the Yellow Jackets. Moses took a charge with three seconds remaining that sealed the victory for the Cavaliers.

Virginia shot 43.8 percent (21-of-48) while Georgia Tech went 21-of-61 (34.4 percent). Georgia Tech held a 36-30 edge in rebounding.

Friday’s game against the Irish will be televised on the ACC Regional Sports Networks and will stream live online as an ACC Network Extra contest (subject to blackout). All of the 2017-18 Virginia women’s basketball games – home and away – are available locally on the radio on NewsRadio 1070 AM and 98.9 FM WINA.

Virginia has won three ACC Championships, the last coming in 1993.


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