Women’s basketball: Virginia faces Cal on Friday in NCAA Tournament


uva basketballThe 10-seed Virginia women’s basketball team (18-13) will face seven-seed California (21-10) in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Friday, March 16 at 5 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena.

The game will be televised on ESPN2 and will stream live online via WatchESPN. 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.

The winner of Friday’s game will advance to play either two-seed South Carolina (26-6), the defending NCAA national champions, or MEAC champion North Carolina A&T (23-8), on Sunday at a time yet to be determined.

The first and second round games in Columbia are part of the Albany Region which also encompasses first and second round contests being held in Storrs, Conn., Athens, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla.

The Cavaliers are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2010 and their 25th overall appearance in the championship. Virginia appeared in the tournament every year from 1984 through 2003. After missing the tournament in 2004, UVA returned to the field in 2005, and then made three-straight appearances from 2008-10. The Cavaliers have made 12 trips to the Sweet 16, three runs to the Final Four (1990-92) and played in the NCAA title game in 1991.

The Cavaliers finished the regular season in a tie for sixth place in the ACC and advanced to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. The Atlantic Coast Conference had eight teams selected to the tournament to match a league record (2014 and 2015), and are the most of any conference this year.

This season, Virginia played the third-toughest schedule in the country. Only Notre Dame and Oklahoma had higher strength of schedules. The Cavaliers’ defense has held 23 of its 31 opponents to shooting under 40.0 percent. Only one opponent, Notre Dame, has managed to shoot better than 50.0 percent. Notre Dame is also the only team to score more than 80 points against the Cavaliers this season.

Sophomore center Felicia Aiyeotan (Lagos, Nigeria) is the fifth player in program history to be named to the ACC All-Defensive Team, joining Renee Robinson (a member of the inaugural team in 2000), LaTonya Blue (2004-05), Monica Wright (2008, 10) and Lexie Gerson (2012, 14). Aiyeotan leads the ACC in blocked shots per game (2.1) and is 33rd in the nation with 65 blocked shots this season. As a sophomore, she is already fifth in program history in blocked shots with 119 in her two seasons. She ranks 10th in the ACC in rebounding (7.0 per game) and 11th in field goal percentage (51.2 percent).

Sophomore guard Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) was an honorable mention in All-ACC voting. Toussaint leads the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game. She had a strong end to the season, scoring in double figures in six of her last eight games. Toussaint is 10th in the ACC in assists, averaging 3.7 per game. She has 126 field goals and 115 assists this season.

Sophomore guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) and senior forward Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.) were named to the ACC All-Academic team, the second straight year both earned the honor. Willoughby is third on the team in scoring (9.6 points per game) and second in rebounding (5.4 per game). Moses scored the 1,000th point of her career on Feb. 15 against Notre Dame.

Senior guard Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) scored a team-high 19 points in the ACC Tournament win over Georgia Tech. She scored 13 points against Notre Dame in the ACC quarterfinals, to average 16.0 points per game in the ACC Tournament. Huland El has led the team in scoring (or shared the team lead) in seven of the last 13 games. Huland El scored her 1,000th career point on Feb. 1 against Louisville.

Cal is making its 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its sixth in the last seven seasons. The Bears have reached at least the second round in each of its last seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by a trip to Final Four in 2013. The Bears enter the 2018 tournament with an overall record of 21-10, completing their sixth 20-win season in seven years under head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. Cal finished fifth in the conference standings and closed out the regular season with five wins in its final six games.

Center Kristine Anigwe and guard Asha Thomas have led the Bears in scoring this season, averaging 16.7 and 12.7 points per game this season, respectively. A three-time All-Pac-12 honoree, Anigwe once again ranks among the Pac-12 leaders in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage and has 11 double-doubles on the year. Thomas, an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, has four 20-point performances in her last seven games and ranks in the top 20 nationally in free throw percentage, shooting 87.5 percent from the charity stripe this season.

Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle served as the head coach of the Golden Bears from 2005-11.

General admission seating is available for $15 (adult) for the first round (both games) and $12 (adult) for the second round.. Booklets for the entire weekend are available for $23 and include a general admission ticket for each round or $33 for reserved seating. Purchase ticket booklets by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS, visiting the Colonial Life Arena box office during regular business hours or going online at GamecocksOnline.com. Single-sessions tickets are available at TicketMaster.com.



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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

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