Women’s basketball falls to South Carolina

Cavaliers come up short in tough battle with Gamecocks in second round of NCAA Tournament

sp-Toussaint

Virginia sophomore guard Dominique Toussaint scored 16 points in Virginia's loss Sunday night.

Benjamin Burke | Cavalier Daily

Although the No. 10-seed Virginia women’s basketball team hung around with No. 2-seed South Carolina for a majority of the game, a great performance by South Carolina’s senior forward A'ja Wilson kept the Cavaliers (19-14) from pulling off their second upset of the tournament Sunday night and gave her team the 66-56 victory.  

"I'm just incredibly proud to have been the coach of this team this year,” Virginia Coach Joanne Boyle said. "We just fought and believed in each other, and they really laid a foundation for what can be a part of this program moving forward."

The Cavaliers entered the game after defeating California in the first round, making it the first time since 2009 that the program won an NCAA tournament game. Virginia put itself in a position to get another tourney win under their belts in the second round, as the Cavaliers only trailed the Gamecocks (28-6) by three points at the end of the first quarter, by five points at halftime and by six after three quarters. However, with a home crowd on its side, South Carolina was ultimately able to pull away with the win.

"Tonight, obviously, we wanted a different outcome,” Virginia senior guard Aliyah Huland El said, “But I'm proud of the way we fought against the defending national champions."

In the fight against the defending national champs, Virginia’s offense was powered by sophomore guard Dominique Toussaint and senior guard J’Kyra Brown, who each scored 16 points. Huland El also added seven points, while sophomore guard Jocelyn Willoughby and senior forward Lauren Moses had six.

On the other end of the court, despite having a great defensive game against the Golden Bears, Virginia’s defense couldn’t contain Wilson. The three-time All-SEC player of the year had 25 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots, and two steals on the night.

“She's unbelievably talented," Boyle said of Wilson. "She can do it all ... She is, to me, the best player in the country. We haven't played against everybody, so I'm just talking about the people I've played against, but she's a talent."

Though the Cavaliers knew that the talented Wilson was on the roster, they never questioned whether or not they would be able to compete with South Carolina.

“There was no doubt in our minds that we could win that game,” Toussaint said.  

While Virginia ultimately was unable to come away with the victory, they still went out of the tournament proving that the program is headed in the right direction. 

"It's more than just wins and losses,” Boyle said. “It's building a program, leaving a legacy, and letting other people take that and run with it."

The players that have a part of building this program include El Huland, Moses, Brown and forward Jae’Lisa Allen. While those seniors will be greatly missed, the Cavaliers return Toussaint, Willoughby, sophomore center Felicia Aieyotan, sophomore forward Lisa Jablonowski and freshman guard Brianna Tinsley to pick up where the team left off.

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