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Cavaliers look to tackle Pack

No. 13 Virginia rides three-game conference win streak into home matchup against struggling N.C. State; Wright

Hoping to follow up on an undefeated week of ACC basketball, the No. 13 Virginia women's basketball team welcomes N.C. State tonight at John Paul Jones Arena.

The Lady Wolfpack (12-8, 2-3 ACC) enter Wednesday's matchup coming off a heartbreaking loss against No. 20 North Carolina. Against the Tar Heels, N.C. State led 51-42 midway through the second half of the game before squandering its lead as a result of poor interior defensive play and a low shooting percentage of only 31 percent. The Monday loss was N.C. State's third in its last four games and the second time during that same stretch in which the Wolfpack's opponent scored more than 80 points.

The Cavaliers (14-5, 3-2 ACC), conversely, have hit their stride of late, having won three straight matchups against ACC rivals Virginia Tech, Boston College and Georgia Tech, including two games decided by only two points. After starting the season 0-2 against conference foes, the squad emphasized focusing on only one game at a time and achieving consistent levels of performance on both ends of the court.

"It's definitely been something we need after starting off the way we did," senior guard Monica Wright said. "I think we can build off these three wins and continue to chip away at the ACC and make it easier for ourselves when it comes time for the tournament."

As she has done consistently throughout the 2009-10 season, Wright has played an integral role in each of the Cavaliers' victories. During the last three games, Wright has averaged 36.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.0 steals - a statline impressive enough to earn the senior last week's ACC Player of the Week honors.

Sophomore forward Britny Edwards also has contributed by coming off the bench to assist the Cavaliers down low. During Sunday's 57-55 win against Georgia Tech, Edwards posted a career-high eight points and six rebounds.

"I thought Britny performed admirably [on Sunday]," coach Debbie Ryan said. "She came off the bench ready to go. She hadn't gotten to play a lot this year and she did a terrific job. I was really proud of her ... I really think that this team is coming together and getting more mature as we go."

Despite its recent success, the team knows that it cannot underestimate N.C. State's desire to repeat last year's upset of the Cavaliers, when the Lady Wolfpack defeated then-No. 15 Virginia 60-54.

The Cavaliers will continue conference play Sunday as they travel to North Carolina to take on ACC rival Wake Forest, before returning home to host Clemson Feb. 4.

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