Relentless perimeter defense and clutch three-point shooting propelled the fourth-seeded Virginia women's basketball team into the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a 74-70 win over fifth-seeded Boston College Sunday night in University Hall before a crowd of 4,890.
In winning their 15th straight home game, the Cavaliers (25-8) earned a date with top seed Tennessee in the Mideast Regional in Memphis, their first Sweet Sixteen appearance in three years. Virginia's streak of 11 consecutive third-round appearances ended in 1997.
"It means a great deal to me to put us back in the Sweet Sixteen," Cav coach Debbie Ryan said.
The Eagles (26-9) pulled to within three on a trey by senior guard Cal Bouchard with 6.3 seconds remaining, but the Cavs responded with a long inbounds pass from forward Lisa Hosac to a sprinting Telisha Quarles, who was fouled with 3.4 seconds on the clock. Quarles coolly stepped to the line and rewarded the cheering crowd by converting her first free throw for her 24th point, a career high.
Virginia led for all but four minutes of the game. Bouchard and Eagle forward Becky Gottstein worked in tandem to whittle away the Cavalier lead early in the second half, and a three-point shot by Bouchard with 15:18 remaining dropped Virginia into a 40-36 hole, its largest deficit of the night.