Women's basketball looks for second straight ACC win vs. Eagles
The Virginia women’s basketball team meets sharpshooting Boston College Thursday in Charlottesville looking for a second consecutive win in ACC play.
The Cavaliers (12-6, 4-3 ACC) look to build off the dominant play that propelled them to a 62-52 victory against Miami while the Eagles (8-9, 2-4 ACC) hope to rebound from a 92-87 double overtime loss to Wake Forest.
Virginia has not been a high-scoring squad this season — its 64.2 point-per-game average ranks ninth in the ACC — but the team has begun to find its shooting stroke recently. The Cavaliers made 6-of-10 3-pointers against the Hurricanes Sunday, and the offense has mustered 60 or more points in four straight games.
“I think we’re just getting confident and making out shots in practice and games, and it’s translating,” junior guard Kelsey Wolfe said.
Wolfe’s scoring touch has been key to the Cavaliers’ offensive improvements. She leads the team with an average of 12.3 points per game this season, and she has elevated her play in recent weeks, averaging 16.8 points during the last five contests. Wolfe has tallied 12 or more points in each game during the stretch.
“Teams have been doubling in on the post, so that’s been leaving our guards open, and the guards have been shooting the lights out,” senior forward Telia McCall said. “They’ve been wonderful shooting the three.”
Three other Cavaliers added double-digits points against Miami, including McCall, who finished with 13 points. Junior guard Ataira Franklin and senior guard China Crosby added 17 and 12 respectively. Franklin scored her game-high point total while making 75 percent from the field in her best shooting performance of the year. That accuracy from the field will be critical against a Boston College team that allows 60.1 points per game.
Though the Cavaliers have primarily focused on improving their efficiency from the field, the Eagles’ shooting strategy has centered as much on volume as accuracy. Boston College leads the ACC in 3-pointers made with 120, but the squad has also shot 49 more than any other team in the ACC, making 34 percent from beyond the arc.
Boston College relies on multiple outside weapons to stretch the defense. Freshman guard Nicole Boudreau, the reigning ACC rookie of the week, averages 2.5 3-pointers per game, followed by senior guard Kerri Shields with 2.4. Boudreau, Shields and junior guard Kristen Doherty account for 296 of the Eagles’ 352 attempted 3-pointers.
“They stride the ball down the floor and look to get threes in transition,” coach Joanne Boyle said. “They’re shooting like 20-some threes a game, making seven, so that’s a lot of points, so we need to take away as many of those as we can in transition.”
Virginia did well slowing a similar offense against Miami, holding the usually accurate Hurricanes to 3-of-13 shooting from long range. The Cavaliers also capitalized on their opponents’ offensive miscues, adding 21 points off turnovers and tallying eight steals.
“It was a really good game for us to build up for the BC game,” Boyle said. “They have three really good shooters, and we just emphasized it in film and in practice. A lot of times, teams tend to run into the paint and then find the shooters, so we said we need to find the shooters before you get into the paint.”
Virginia is 10-2 all-time against Boston College, including a 72-41 win in last season’s ACC tournament.
Eleven games remain in the regular season, and Virginia is looking to improve on its 4-3 conference record and its RPI rating of 43 with the hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time under second-year coach Boyle.