Women’s basketball: Virginia tops Wake Forest to finish regular season
The Virginia women’s basketball team (17-12, 10-6 ACC) closed out the regular season with a 48-41 victory over Wake Forest (13-16, 5-11 ACC) on Sunday (Feb. 25) at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Wake Forest held a 10-point lead in the first half, but the Cavaliers chipped away and tied the game on a three-pointer from sophomore guard Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Wake Forest briefly retook the lead, 33-31, with 8:34 remaining in the game, but the Cavaliers mounted an 8-0 run to take control of the game. Virginia went 9-of-10 from the free throw line down the stretch to close out the victory.
The Cavaliers finish the regular season in a tie for sixth place in the ACC with a 10-6 record. Due to tiebreakers, the Cavaliers will be the No. 7 seed in the ACC Tournament.
Toussaint finished the game with 17 points, going 5-of-9 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. She also grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Sophomore guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) scored 14 points, going 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line, with five rebounds and two steals.
Amber Campbell, the lone senior on Wake’s squad who was honored before the game in the annual Senior Game ceremony, was the lone Demon Deacon in double figures, scoring 13 points with five rebounds, playing all 40 minutes.
“At the end of the third quarter when we took the lead, I felt like we could finally catch our breath a little,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “Then I felt we settled down and little-by-little, took control. It wasn’t that we were making every shot, but we were valuing possessions better, moving the ball better. We were more confident. The people who were on the floor just got the work done for us down the stretch.
“Early on, we were turning the ball over, but then [Toussaint] gave us a spark. Then they went to the zone and [Willoughby] hit a couple of mid-range jumpers and just settled down a little. We had been trying to overpass and thread-the-needle and do too much early, but when we cleaned that up and settled in, our sophomores took control of the game for us.”
The Cavaliers scored the first five points of the game on a three from redshirt senior guard J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) followed by a jumper from Willoughby to give Virginia a 5-0 lead with 7:56 remaining in the quarter. Wake hit a bucket two minutes later, the only basket either team would score for a span of 5:34. The Demon Deacons fired off seven points in the final 1:18 to end the quarter on a 9-0 run and with a 9-5 lead. The Cavaliers missed their final seven field goal attempts of the quarter and committed 10 turnovers in the fame.
Sophomore center Felicia Aiyeotan (Lagos, Nigeria) ended the scoring drought 45 seconds into the second quarter, converting an opportunity right below the hoop. Wake Forest, however, mounted an 8-0 run midway through the period, extending its lead to 19-9 with 5:15 remaining. Sophomore guard Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) ended the run, hitting a jumper with 4:09 remaining. Toussaint scored six total points in the quarter as the Cavaliers went into the locker room trailing 22-15.
In the third quarter, the Cavaliers twice narrowed the gap to two points, with a three-pointer from Willoughby making it 24-22 and a layup from senior forward Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.) making it a 26-24 contest, but each time Wake Forest answered until a three-pointer from Toussaint with 49 seconds left in the quarter tied the score at 29. Toussaint was fouled with three seconds remaining, converting her free throws to put Virginia ahead 31-29 heading into the final period.
Wake Forest scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to retake the lead, 33-31, but the Cavaliers responded with three baskets in a span of 1:46, including a pair from Willoughby, to take a 37-33 lead. Aiyeotan, wide open under the net, converted a layup with 5:28 remaining to extend the lead to 39-33.
The Cavaliers held a 40-35 lead with 1:30 remaining until Wake’s Alex Sharp hit a jumper to make it a three-point game, 40-37. The Cavaliers and Demon Deacons traded free throws for field goals on the next two possessions. Willoughby put the Cavaliers up 44-39 with a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining. Wake Forest missed a field goal attempt on the opposite end, with Toussaint wrapping up the rebound and immediately getting fouled. She made both free throws to give UVA a 46-39 edge. Wake missed a three-pointer on the opposite end with sophomore forward Lisa Jablonowski (Ernster, Luxembourg) grabbing the rebound and converting her free throws to seal the victory. Campbell made a layup in the final seconds to knock the difference down to seven points.
The Cavaliers shot 35.6 percent (16-of-45) from the field but had a 92.9 percent efficiency from the free throw line (13-of-14). Wake Forest went 17-of-54 (31.5 percent). Virginia held a 34-27 edge in rebounds.
The bracket for the 2018 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, being held February 28 – March 4 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. The Cavaliers will have a first-round bye and will face the winner of 10-seed Georgia Tech and 15-seed Clemson on Thursday, March 1 at 6 p.m.