Cavs to take on still reeling Georgia Tech
In the midst of a three-game winning streak, the Virginia women’s basketball team returns home to host a familiar foe Sunday in Charlottesville. Georgia Tech will get its second crack against the Cavaliers this season as they look to earn redemption after falling 62-51 at home in Atlanta Jan. 10. For Virginia, lessons learned in that win will be crucial to notching a fourth consecutive victory in conference play.
The win against the Yellow Jackets came at a critical time for Virginia (14-6, 6-3 ACC). It helped erase memories of a disappointing 58-52 loss at Miami four days earlier and gave the team its first conference road win of the season. In the victory, the Cavaliers shot almost 43 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc against Georgia Tech’s (8-12, 1-8 ACC) full-court pressure.
“We did a really good job against their press,” coach Joanne Boyle said. “Their system and style is to press the entire game, and they’ll run five different presses at you. You can’t worry about what type of press it is, you just have to run your press break options and know what you’re looking for, which gave us easy baskets.”
Despite having offensive success against the Yellow Jackets, the Cavaliers did cough up 25 turnovers, their second highest total of the year. Though the miscues did not prove costly in the teams’ first matchup, Virginia will look for improved ball control in the second go-round.
“[We have to] make sure we stayed poised for 40 minutes,” senior guard China Crosby said. “We can’t have a lapse for two minutes, especially against Georgia Tech’s pressure. That’s the thing that we’re focusing on.”
It was those lapses that nearly doomed Virginia in its last game, a 69-64 win at Wake Forest. The Cavaliers had been up by as much as 19 points before the Lady Deacons stormed back to cut the lead to just five with under a minute to play. With Georgia Tech’s penchant for steals, a key turnover here or there could be damaging Sunday.
“We did a good job for a while and then we kind of got lackadaisical,” Boyle said. “Hopefully we’ve played in enough games to know that the difference between having 16 turnovers in a game and having 25 could be a win or a loss.”
The Cavaliers were able to outlast Wake Forest because they had built a big enough lead in the first half on the strength of their offense. In its last five games, Virginia is shooting 43.8 percent from the field — above their 41.3 percent season average — and their long-range shooting has been even more impressive. In the same number of games the team is shooting 45.7 percent from beyond the arc and is averaging 6.6 3-pointers per game. That accuracy has created scoring opportunities by stretching the defense.
“I think we’ve been hitting a lot more jumpers, and it does open up the court,” senior center Simone Egwu said. “It gives you a lot more opportunity for high-low [offense], for our inside-out game. When people have to guard a post threat and [a threat] from behind the arc, it really gives you a lot more options.”
At 6-3 in the conference, Virginia currently sits fifth in the ACC standings. The Yellow Jackets are currently at last place in the ACC, but the Cavaliers are well aware that every conference game matters.
“We know that we can’t look at Georgia Tech’s record, because they’re coached by a very good coach and they’re a very good team,” Crosby said. “Coming in here, they really have nothing to lose. They’ll come in here and do the same thing they do. What we have to do is to take film, look at the things we did well against their pressure and make sure we attack the same way we did in that last game.”
Tipoff at John Paul Jones Arena is set for 1 p.m.