Women’s basketball: Virginia erases 14-point deficit to down Green Bay, 68-59

uva womens basketballThe Virginia women’s basketball team (5-0, 0-0 ACC) earned a 68-59 victory over Green Bay (2-1, 0-0 Horizon) on Thursday (Nov. 26) at the Paradise Jam Tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Virginia trailed by as many as 14 points in the game and was down 35-22 with 1:35 remaining in the first half, but a 25-point performance from sophomore Mikayla Venson (Arlington, Va.) and a huge third-quarter in which UVA outscored Green Bay 22-7 helped the Cavaliers open the tournament with a victory.

“I am so proud of their performance out there today,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “We started to play better in the second half. We just got stops. In the first half, we didn’t do a good job of getting stops, but we just knew we were going to get back into it. The team has played so tough all year. Mikayla, the defense and everyone really worked to get us back in this game. We started to knock down shots after missing some early. We went into more of a motion set. We just grinded it out.”

With the win, Virginia improves to 5-0 to start the season for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

Venson scored a career-high 25 points, going 8-of-8 from the free throw line, including making six-straight in the final 1:32 to close out the game. Junior Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) scored 16 points, going 5-of-7 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Senior Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Green Bay’s Tesha Buck scored 24 points, going 5-of-8 from three-point range.

Green Bay started the game making six of its first nine shots, helping the Phoenix build a 24-14 lead in the first quarter. Buck hit her fourth three-pointer with 7:38 remaining in the second quarter to give the Phoenix its largest lead, 30-16. Trailing by 13 with 1:35 remaining in the first half, a three-pointer from Venson followed by a layup from Mason capped a 6-0 run that began to chip away at the deficit. The Phoenix hit a free throw with 12 seconds remaining to go into the locker room with a 36-27 lead.

The Cavaliers opened the third quarter with back-to-back buckets from Randolph and Venson to make it a 36-31 game. Virginia started the half making six of its first eight shots. A fade-away jumper from Randolph followed by a pair of Mason free throws erased the last of Green Bay’s lead, tying the game 41-41 with 3:58remaining in the third quarter. After Green Bay temporarily retook the lead on a free throw, Virginia closed the quarter on an 8-1 run, leading 49-43.

Virginia held a 53-49 advantage with six minutes left in the game when a three-pointer from Venson started a 9-0 run for the Cavaliers. Back-to-back three-pointers from Buck and Mehryn Kraker with 55 and 43 seconds left in the game cut the Virginia lead to seven, 66-59, but Virginia called a timeout, advancing the ball into their end of the court, inbounding the ball to Venson who was fouled and sent to the line to convert two free throws.

Green Bay took four off-the-mark threes in the final 30 seconds until sophomore Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) corralled the final rebound, holding on to the ball as the clock expired.

Virginia shot 52.2 percent (12-of-23) in the second half after going 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) in the first half. Green Bay went 20-of-49 (40.8 percent) for the game. The Phoenix outrebounded the Cavaliers, 30-26.

Virginia has two games remaining in the Paradise Jam, taking on Rutgers (2-2) on Friday and finishing with Tulane (3-1) on Saturday.

Virginia’s next home game will be Wednesday, Dec. 2 when it hosts Iowa in the 2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The game will also be Holiday Sweater Night when prizes will be randomly awarded to fans dressed in holiday sweaters.

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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