Women’s basketball: Virginia opens ACC Tournament on Thursday

uva basketballThe No. 7-seed Virginia women’s basketball team (17-12, 10-6 ACC) will play the winner of 10-seed Georgia Tech/15-seed Clemson on Thursday, March 1 at 6 p.m., 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 game 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.

The winner of Thursday’s game will 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.

Virginia finished the regular season in a three-way tie for sixth place in the ACC with Miami and Syracuse. By virtue of tiebreaker rules, Miami is the six seed, Virginia the seven and Syracuse the eight. All three teams earned first-round byes and will begin competition on Thursday in the second round. Virginia’s 10 ACC wins are the most in Joanne Boyle’s seven seasons as the Cavaliers’ head coach. The last time the Cavaliers tallied 10 conference wins was the 2007-08 season when they went 10-4 and finished in a tie for third place.

Virginia is coming off a 48-41 road win at Wake Forest on Sunday to close out the regular season. Sophomore guards Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) combined to score 31 of Virginia’s 48 points against Wake Forest. Toussaint scored 17 points, going 5-of-9 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line, her 20th double-digit scoring game of the season. Toussaint ended the regular season strong, scoring in double figures in five of her last six games.

Willoughby scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting against Wake. Willoughby is second on the team in scoring (9.9) and rebounding (5.4). In conference games, Willoughby averages 6.3 rebounds per game, ranking 16th in the conference. Last year at the ACC Tournament, Willoughby averaged 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in the Cavaliers’ two games.

Sophomore center Felicia Aiyeotan (Lagos, Nigeria) was named to the 2018 ACC All-Defensive Team this week. Aiyeotan leads the ACC in blocked shots per game (2.1) and is ninth in rebounding (7.3 per game).

The Cavaliers are No. 35 in the RPI rankings and have played one of the toughest schedules in the nation, ranking as high as No. 3 in strength of schedule. Only Notre Dame (at No. 1) has a higher strength of schedule in the conference. The ACC ranks No. 1 in both conference RPI and conference strength of schedule. The Cavaliers are looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 and their first time under head coach Joanne Boyle.

Virginia has won three ACC Championships, the last coming in 1993. After bowing out three straight years in the second round, Virginia advanced to the 2017 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual-champion Notre Dame, 76-59.

Virginia is 4-5 against Clemson in ACC Tournament games and 7-1 against Georgia Tech. UVA’s only loss to the Yellow Jackets in the tournament came in the second round of the 2014 tournament when the 7-seeded Yellow Jackets edged the 10-seed Cavaliers 77-76.

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by May 15, 2019, and expected to retail for $25.
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The book, with additional reporting by Scott Ratcliffe and Zach Pereles, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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