The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Women stumble in season debut

Debbie Ryan asked for a challenge, and that's what she got. The Ryan-coached Virginia women's basketball team fell yesterday afternoon to St. Joseph's, 73-61, in the Cavs' first home opening loss in 24 years before 2,397 spectators at University Hall.

While Ryan typically elects to start her seasons with overmatched squads like William & Mary or Rider, the Cav coach decided to begin her 23rd year at Virginia with a bang by dueling the Hawks, the defending Atlantic 10 champions.

Even though St. Joseph's (1-0) dismantled the Virginia (0-1) offense in the second half and broke the Cavaliers' long-standing success in the home opener, Ryan is not tempted to return to Rider to open the next millennium.

"This was a good experience for us," she said. "This team is a work in progress."

A last-second three-pointer by second-year guard Telisha Quarles tied the game at 34 going into halftime, but a 25-8 Hawk run in the first 11 minutes of the second half put the game out of reach for the Cavaliers.

"We knew if we shot well, we'd be alright," said St. Joseph's Coach Stephanie Gaitley. "In the second half, we started to connect on some things and people stepped up. It's not that we did anything differently but the focus of the team changed and shots dropped."

Senior center Jana Lichnerova turned in a double-double for St. Joseph's with 13 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 Slovakia native dominated the inside game on both ends of the court after Virginia forward Dean'na Mitchelson suffered a dislocated shoulder in the third minute of the game.

With Mitchelson out, Ryan turned to first-year Schuye LaRue, a newcomer from Archbishop Carroll in Washington, D.C. LaRue exceeded all expectations in her first collegiate game by leading Virginia in points (18), rebounds (7), assists (4) and blocks(1).

"I know I can play hard," LaRue said. "Coach is forcing me to play hard in every game and throughout practice. The team needed a big performance tonight, so I knew I had to step it up."

After fourth-year forward Lisa Hosac scored to give Virginia a one-point lead in the second half, the Hawks began the onslaught that would shackle the Cavaliers for the next 10 minutes of play. First, 6-foot-1 Susan Moran floated a short jumper over 6-foot-10 Elena Kravchenko to hand the Hawks the lead. Then, five consecutive inside scores by St. Joseph's followed by a three-pointer by Colleen McGahan put the Cavs down by double digits.

"I knew we couldn't play zone because they were great shooters," Ryan said. "I thought the defense broke down more than anything. We tried a few different things to try to stop them, but, at one point, we gave up five straight lay-ups, which is unacceptable."

McGahan, a sophomore guard, scored nine points on three long-range jumpers. Starting point guard Angela Zampella also contributed a trio of three-point goals to go with her 17 points and six assists.

Zampella, along with two guard Cheryl Kulesa, outplayed the Virginia backcourt with outside accuracy and slashing drives. The combination of Erin Stovall, Renee Robinson and Quarles struggled through a six-for-26 shooting performance and committed seven turnovers.

For a player relied on by Ryan for significant scoring assistance every game, Stovall scored only six points and went to the line only three times.


Latest Podcast

From her love of Taylor Swift to a late-night Yik Yak post, Olivia Beam describes how Swifties at U.Va. was born. In this week's episode, Olivia details the thin line Swifties at U.Va. successfully walk to share their love of Taylor Swift while also fostering an inclusive and welcoming community.