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Egwu shines in dominant Virginia win

Squad tops Longwood 81-40 in punishing victory at home; freshman center records first career double-double

After clawing their way to two straight overtime victories, the No. 18 Cavaliers demolished Longwood 81-40 last night at John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia played its starters sparingly after enduring a double-overtime marathon against North Carolina the previous night but still had no trouble improving to 8-4 all-time against Longwood.

"We sort of approached this like a tournament atmosphere, and I thought it was a real character revealer for us," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "We could have folded and just gotten through it, or we could have stepped up and shown what kind of character we are going to have [in postseason play]."

Freshman center Simone Egwu led the way for Virginia, scoring 18 points and adding 16 rebounds to record her first career double-double. It was reminiscent of the nine-point, 20-rebound performance freshman forward Telia McCall turned in Monday night against North Carolina.

"Simone [Egwu] was unbelievable," Ryan said. "I think two first-years with 20 and 16 [rebounds] in back-to-back nights is a pretty good sign for this program, and I was really pleased with the way that Simone came out."

Other top scorers for the Cavaliers included freshman guard Lexie Gerson and sophomore forward Britny Edwards, both of whom contributed 12 points. Senior guard Monica Wright added 13 points despite playing for only 16 minutes.

The Cavaliers successfully worked for inside shots on offense, but the game was won on the defensive side of the ball. Virginia's defense managed 54 rebounds to just 22 by the Lancers, refusing to allow penetration on the inside. They also held the Lancers to just 27 percent shooting. The halftime score was a lopsided 42-24, but the gap widened significantly during the second half, largely because Virginia's defense refused to slow down.

"I think that the defense was exceptional tonight in a lot of ways," Ryan said. "I got on them a little bit at halftime and reminded them of what we were trying to accomplish tonight. They stepped up and took the challenge in the second half and really came out and closed the door very quickly."

The Cavaliers now find themselves in position to solidify their ACC standing as the season draws to a close. The two teams ahead of Virginia in the conference are its next two opponents - Florida State and Duke. Additionally, the Cavaliers now have experience with both close games and little time to rest - two challenges they are likely to face come tournament time.

"We need to get ready for the tournament, and we might have to play back-to-back games," McCall said. "So we needed this"

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