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McCall propels team to two-overtime win

Freshman forward tallies 20 boards in 82-78 victory against North Carolina

Virginia forward Monica Wright (22) in action against MU.  The Virginia Cavaliers women's basketball team defeated the Monmouth Hawks 71-45 at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA on December 18, 2008.
Virginia forward Monica Wright (22) in action against MU. The Virginia Cavaliers women's basketball team defeated the Monmouth Hawks 71-45 at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA on December 18, 2008.

After 13 straight losses to the Tar Heels - a stretch that dates back to 2003 - the Cavaliers edged North Carolina 82-78 in double overtime last night at John Paul Jones Arena.

Virginia took the lead for good with 1:45 remaining in the second extra period, when freshman forward Telia McCall sank two free throws to go up 80-78. Sophomore guard Ariana Moorer hit another pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining to put the last nail in the coffin of North Carolina's win streak against Virginia.

For the sixth time this season, Wright scored at least 30 points, tallying 33 by the end of the second overtime, including 11-for-11 from the free-throw line while also chipping in nine boards.

But Virginia's leading rebounder was McCall, who grabbed 20 rebounds including 11 from the offensive end. It was the first time this season an ACC player totaled at least 20 rebounds.

"I really thought that the quiet hero tonight was Telia McCall." Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan said. "We told her all we needed her to do was to rebound, and she really stepped up and hit two big free throws at the end, too."

The Tar Heels pushed the game into overtime when Italee Lucas sank a miracle three-pointer with two seconds left.

"It was a dagger, but we just had to keep fighting," junior guard Paulisha Kellum said. "The game wasn't over yet, but in the end, the buzzer ended, and we came out with a victory."

Before the three, Wright had seemingly taken control of the game once and for all, scoring four straight points when Virginia was down by three with less than a minute-and-a-half left in regulation. A pair of Kellum free throws created the three-point gap, which Lucas would close only seconds later.

Despite Wright's strong play at the end of regulation, she vanished in overtime, scoring no points during the first extra period.

During the second overtime, Wright again was held scoreless from the field but hit four crucial free throws to keep Virginia afloat.

"If you take her off of that team, a lot of things change," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I think she's the player of the year for the conference. I don't know anyone else who is better than her."

Wright's contributions came not only through points or rebounds, but also through drawing the North Carolina defense away from other players. The Tar Heels adjusted their defense at the half, assigning She'la White to cover Wright, while the rest of the team played a looser zone. This opened up the game for Virginia's supporting cast and helped McCall grab rebounds, as fewer Tar Heels clogged the lane.

"I think there were a lot of heroes tonight, a lot of people that played their butts off," Ryan said. "I could not have asked for anything more."

Of the eight players who saw game time for Virginia, all but one scored at least six points. Moorer added seven assists and was the only Virginia player apart from Wright to score in double digits.\nWright moved to third on the All-Time ACC scoring list with last night's performance, one spot behind Alana Beard of Duke.

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