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Women’s basketball: Virginia falls to Iowa, 85-73, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge

uva womens basketballThe Virginia women’s basketball team (5-3) lost 85-73 to No. 24 Iowa (7-1) in the ninth-annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday (Dec. 2) at John Paul Jones Arena.

The Hawkeyes broke open a tight game in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavaliers 23-10 in the period, taking a 20-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers mounted a 9-2 run midway through the fourth quarter, narrowing the gap to 11, 71-60, with 4:41 remaining, but Iowa scored five-straight points to take back control of the game and hand Virginia its third-straight loss.

“Obviously, we are disappointed about the loss,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “I thought we fought hard for three quarters, but we let one of the quarters get away from us. We did not get many stops, which affected the flow on offense. I think when sometimes you get stagnant on one end, you lose a flow on the other end. I keep telling them that we’re going to figure that piece out. We’ve been playing so many games and we just need time to get a little bit of practice in to understand that and clean some stuff up.”

Sophomore Mikayla Venson (Arlington, Va.) had her second 20-point game of the season, finishing with a career-high 28 points, including scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter. Senior Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) finished the game with 12 points, going 6-of-11 from the field.

Iowa’s Alexa Kastanek scored 22 points, including going 4-of-7 from three-point range. Ally Disterhoft scored 18 points, going 6-of-8 from the field.

Both teams had hot-shooting performances with the Hawkeyes shooting 52.7 percent (29-of-55) and the Cavaliers 50 percent (29-of-58). Iowa made 10 three-pointers, going 10-of-24 from long range. Venson and junior Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) combined to make six threes for the Cavaliers.

Virginia jumped out to an early lead after Mason hit back-to-back threes on feeds from Venson. Randolph followed with a steal of an inbounds pass, scoring on a fastbreak to give UVA an 8-3 lead. Iowa used the long ball, hitting three threes in the first quarter, to erase the deficit and take a 19-18 lead into the second period.

Virginia trailed by two, 27-25, with six minutes left in the second quarter when Iowa’s Kali Peschel hit back-to-back threes to start an 8-0 run for the Hawkeyes. Venson hit a three-pointer with 42 seconds left in the half to send the Cavaliers into the break down five, 40-35.

Kastanek provided all of the Hawkeye offense during an 8-2 run to start the third quarter, setting the tone for a period in which Iowa built up an 18-point lead, 63-45.

Virginia rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring Iowa 28-22, with Venson scoring 15 of UVA’s points in the period. Venson had two and-ones, four other free throws, a three-pointer and a layup in the final 6:53 of the game.

Four players fouled out of the game, including Randolph, sophomore Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.) and sophomore Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) for Virginia and Kastanek for Iowa.

The Big Ten leads the Challenge, 5-2, after the conclusion of Wednesday’s contests. Seven more games will be playedon Thursday.

In last year’s Challenge, the ACC and Big Ten tied, each winning seven games, for only the second tie in Challenge history. The ACC owns six Challenge titles. The Cavaliers have a 5-4 record all-time in Challenge games and Iowa improved to 3-6.

The Cavaliers close out the week hosting NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.Virginia will play an 11 a.m. contest on Tuesday, Dec. 8 against Bowling Green before breaking for finals.

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 open Monday 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).