Women’s basketball: Virginia opens ACC play with a 62-50 victory over Pitt
The Virginia women’s basketball team (8-6, 1-0 ACC) opened its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule with a 62-50 victory over Pittsburgh (7-6, 0-1 ACC) on Thursday (Dec. 28) at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.
The Cavaliers led by 26 points in the third quarter, but the Panthers cut it to single digits, 52-44, with 5:48 remaining in the fourth quarter, but UVA held on for the victory. Both teams had three extended scoring streaks in the game with Virginia going on a 15-0 run in the first quarter, a 9-0 stretch in the second and scoring the first 10 points of the second half, while the Panthers mounted two 11-point runs in the second half.
Sophomore guard Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) scored 16 points with a career-high seven assists. Sophomore center Felicia Aiyeotan (Lagos, Nigeria) had her third double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Pittsburgh’s Pika Rodriguez came off the bench to score 17 points, going 5-of-8 from three-point range.
“We were excited to start the ACC season at home and this win was a great start for us,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “There are still things that we need to get better at, but this was a good start. I felt at times tonight we got a little stagnant and we didn’t finish well. Hopefully we can clean that up before Sunday. I am excited about where we are and what we can build on moving forward.”
Pitt’s Yacine Diop made the first basket of the game, hitting a jumper 33 seconds into the contest. Toussaint hit a three pointer 20 seconds later to begin a 15-0 Virginia run. The Cavalier defense held the Panthers scoreless for eight minutes, with the Panthers made just one of their first 10 field goal attempts as UVA built up a 17-8 advantage heading into the second period.
The Panthers hit three three-pointers in the second quarter to chip away at the deficit, cutting it down to 25-19 before sophomore forward Lisa Jablonowski (Ernster, Luxembourg) grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked the ball out top to freshman guard Brianna Tinsley (Madison, Va.) who hit a three-pointer. Redshirt senior J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) and Toussaint followed with two more threes, giving the Cavaliers a 9-0 run in a span of 1:06 to push the lead out to a 34-19 advantage. The Cavaliers went into halftime with a 38-22 lead.
Tinsley opened the third quarter by hitting a jumper, starting a 10-0 run for the Cavaliers. UVA made four of its first five field goal attempts in the period to push the lead out to 26, 48-22, with 7:16 remaining in the period. The Cavaliers went cold from the floor, missing seven straight shots while Pitt built up an 11-0 run to knock the deficit down the 48-33 in the final two minutes of the quarter. Senior guard Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) put an end to the drought, making a layup with 58 seconds remaining in the period.
The Cavaliers began the final quarter with a 50-33 advantage but Rodriguez hit her fifth three of the game early in the quarter to further chip away at the deficit, getting it down to a 12-point game, 52-40, with seven minutes left in the game. The Panthers, who made five straight field goal attempts, extended their run to 11-0, cutting the deficit to single digits, 52-44, on a layup from Kyla Nelson with six minutes left in the game. Brown ended the four-minute UVA scoring drought by hitting a three with 5:25 remaining. The Cavaliers outscored the Panthers 10-6 down the stretch to hold on for the victory.
Virginia held a 43-32 advantage in rebounds and held Pitt to just two second-chance points. Pitt hit eight three-pointers, going 8-of-18 from long range, with Rodriguez making five of those. Virginia was 6-of-18 from three-point range with Brown making half of those. The Cavaliers went 16-of-18 (88.9 percent) from the free throw line.
Virginia continues its current homestand when it hosts Syracuse (12-2, 0-1 ACC) on Sunday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.
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).