Women’s basketball stomps Coppin State, 103-40

Cavaliers defeat Middle Tennessee State Friday for 2-0 start to season

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Freshman center Felicia Aiyeotan led Virginia with 23 points Sunday. She also notched 12 rebounds and six blocks.

Callie Collins | Cavalier Daily

The Virginia women’s basketball team came out hot against Coppin State Sunday and never looked back, cruising to a 103-40 win in front of its home crowd.

While the Cavaliers (2-0) undoubtedly had a stellar offensive performance, the team was able to thrive because of its tenacious defense and aggressiveness on the glass. Virginia had 10 steals and 10 blocks while out-rebounding the Eagles, 50-35.

“Our defense generated out offense, since we turned them over quite a bit,” Virginia coach Joanne Boyle said.

The Cavaliers started the game on fire, taking a 31-10 lead in the first quarter. The team’s scoring pace began to fall early on in the second quarter, but eventually the team found its stroke and began hitting threes and getting big stops on defense. By the fourth quarter, Virginia had complete control of the game — outscoring Coppin State 29-5 in the final period.

“I thought we did a really good job of sharing the ball today,” Boyle said. We tried to play inside and out, and we had really good ball movement.”

Three Cavaliers notched double-doubles, one of whom was freshman center Felicia Aiyeotan, who led the team in scoring with 23 points in a breakout performance. Aiyeotan looked calm and poised in the post in only her second collegiate game, contributing on both offense and defense. She also led the team with 12 rebounds and six blocks.

“Coming into my second game, I already knew what was going to happen,” Aiyeotan said. “I was more comfortable than I was for the last game. Stepping on the court, I know the things that I have to do and the things I have to work on.”

The Cavaliers’ second leading scorer was also a freshman, as guard Jocelyn Willoughby broke out with 21 points. Willoughby is already proving to be a key player in Virginia’s offense in her second strong performance after a 13-point debut against Middle Tennessee State Friday.

“I think, for me, [the key is] just being confident in my own abilities and remaining aggressive,” Willoughby said. “I approach each game pretty much the same way. My goal is to be aggressive, be physical and just do what I do. I think it worked well for me these past two games.”

With so many contributors on both sides of the ball Sunday, the Cavaliers are developing a great rapport with each other in a very short time. Boyle was quick to point out how much of a team effort the win was.

“I think that the reason for the points is that we shared the basketball and we created turnovers, but everything that goes prior to that happening is just laying a great foundation for this team and chemistry and building a united front,” Boyle said. “I think that’s what they’ve really worked hard to do.”

The story of the Cavaliers’ season in its first weekend has been the expectation-shattering play of Boyle’s freshmen at the beginning of their careers. Boyle pointed out how hard work in the preseason has translated to such early success for them.

“They’ve grown a lot even from the summer, all four of them,” Boyle said. “I think they are very coachable, they have a great work ethic, they’ve missed very few practices since this summer and they’re very engaged. They want to work hard and they have a great camaraderie with the upperclassmen. As coaches, you’re going to give players as much as they can handle and they’re proving that they can handle a lot. We haven’t been fully tested but it’s a great start for us to start building on.”

As Boyle alluded to, the competition will only get harder for the Cavaliers, and they will look to build on their success.

“Obviously it was a great win for us, but we don’t want to grow complacent,” Willoughby said. “We want to still continue to work in the next few days, especially for the game against Richmond.”

The Cavaliers’ next test will be in Richmond Wednesday against the Spiders (0-1), who are coming off a home loss against Columbia.

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