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Second-half surge carries No. 20 Cavaliers

Wright racks up 26 points as Whitny Edwards

As the clock wound down to six minutes remaining in the second half, No. 20 Virginia saw its lead against N.C. State dwindle from double digits to a mere three points.

Just as the Cavaliers were losing control of the game, sophomore guard Whitny Edwards released a wild shot from the top of the three-point arc. It banked off the backboard and fell through the net.

After grabbing a rebound on the Wolfpack's next possession, sophomore guard Ariana Moorer hurried down the court and passed to Edwards, again open in three-point range. This time, Edwards' shot was a perfect swish, putting the Cavaliers up by nine and quieting a Wolfpack comeback attempt. Virginia ultimately prevailed, 73-60.

"Those back-to-back threes were huge - absolutely huge," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said.

For the third straight game, however, the Cavaliers emerged with a victory despite entering the second half down a few points. The Wolfpack, who took a three-point lead into halftime, were led by sophomore forward Bonae Holston and senior guard Nikitta Gartrell, who combined for 37 of the team's 60 points.

"We were in attack mode in the second half," senior guard Monica Wright said. "I feel like if we can turn that into a first half thing, we would not have to dig ourselves out of that hole."

Edwards, who has played the role of the Cavaliers' sixth woman in recent weeks, finished the night with 10 points and six rebounds, but those two baskets were her biggest contributions of the evening.

"They were exactly what we needed after getting stops, and even better being in transition," Wright said.

Edwards has quietly put together a solid sophomore season, ranking third on the team in scoring and rebounds. Only Wright has played more minutes than Edwards this season.

She still struggles to be aggressive on a consistent basis, though, and she was one of many Cavaliers to struggle in the early portion of last night's game.

"I do not feel like I played very well in the first half," Edwards said. "I was not aggressive enough on the boards and on defense. Coach Ryan talked to me at halftime about not being enough of a threat, so I tried to focus on that coming into the second half."

Edwards was not the only player to show improvement during the course of last night's game. The Cavaliers shot 16-for-28 in the second half after going only 9-for-27, including 0-for-7 behind the arc, in the opening period.

Though Wright again lit up the scoreboard - totaling six steals, five rebounds, and 26 points on 9-for-20 shooting - she missed several easy baskets, particularly when the game was close.

As her shots struggled to fall, several Virginia underclassmen managed to pick up the slack. Freshman guard Lexie Gerson, starting for the fourth straight game, put up 11 points, while sophomore forward Chelsea Shine and Edwards added 10 each.

"It is comforting to know that if my shot is not falling and we need points then someone else will step up," Wright said. "That is a confidence every scorer wants"


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