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Squad boosts Ryan into elite 700-win club with pair of wins

Preseason All-American senior guard Monica Wright proves nearly perfect, totals 25 points in second half in home opener against Lady Jaspers

With five minutes remaining in the second half of Virginia's match against Manhattan, senior guard Monica Wright received a pass from sophomore guard Ariana Moorer, brought it down court and scored on a fast-break layup.

It was her 10th straight field goal attempt without a miss and bumped her second-half scoring total to 25 points. Less than a minute later, Virginia coach Debbie Ryan took Wright out of the game to a standing ovation from the crowd of 3,026.

"Yeah, she's capable of that," Ryan said with a laugh. "It was a quiet 25."

Wright's precision on offense after halftime prevented a series of defensive lapses from allowing Manhattan (1-1) back in the game, as the No. 14 Cavaliers (2-0) won their home opener 86-68 yesterday afternoon. Despite shooting 12-for-14 from the field, Wright made sure not to take full credit for the win.

"They were all assisted from one of my teammates," Wright said. "I was just making layups, basically."

The Lady Jaspers, despite playing a somewhat sloppy first half compared to the Cavaliers, prevented Virginia from pulling away by capitalizing on numerous Cavalier turnovers. Manhattan scored 23 points off turnovers in the second half, highlighting an area in need of improvement for the Cavaliers.

"We're still not obviously where I want us to be," Ryan said.

The Cavaliers' commanding 40-23 lead going into the break proved too much for the Lady Jaspers to overcome, though. Virginia completely controlled the first half and - in a stark contrast to the second half - relied on commanding defensive assertiveness. The Cavaliers totaled six blocks and nine steals in the opening period.

The win marked the 701st for Debbie Ryan, who notched her historic 700th in Virginia's season-opening win Friday at UMBC.

In both Virginia wins, Ryan spread playing time evenly among the squad's members to better gauge which groups of players seem to have good chemistry together.

"We're not using everything that we have yet," Ryan said. "I just wanted to see where we are, what I have, what I can use, what I can't use."

One player who made a solid claim Sunday for significant playing time was freshman center Simone Egwu, who put up 13 points and nine rebounds - a stat that supports comparisons between her and recently graduated center Aisha Mohammed.

"She was nervous Friday, but I felt like she was fine today," Ryan said. "That's a decent Aisha night."

Heralded recruit China Crosby scored seven points, the second most among freshmen behind Egwu, but still had somewhat mixed feelings about her play.

"I think I played an okay game," the guard said. "In the beginning, I know defensively I did a pretty good job getting some stops."

Crosby ranks as one of the highest rated recruits since Wright came to Charlottesville in 2006.

"I just expect so much from China," Ryan said. "I think she's going to have deal with me expecting her to be at a very, very high level every single night."

The Cavaliers' next match will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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