The Virginia women's basketball team came back from a 16-point deficit late in the first half to secure a 74-63 victory against Longwood yesterday at John Paul Jones Arena.
The Cavaliers started off the game cold, shooting just 8-for-35 in the first half. The team brought down 19 offensive boards and drew 14 fouls in the period, however, which allowed the Cavaliers (3-1) to minimize the damage.
"They were really scrappy, our layups weren't falling today but luckily our free throws were," freshman forward Jazmin Pitts said. "We had to pick our heads up [in the second half]. It was a main focus for our post players, trying to get [offensive] rebounds to get put-backs, or at least draw fouls like we did to keep us in the game."
Junior guard Ariana Moorer - who led the Cavaliers with six first-half points and finished the game with 19 - noted that her team simply came out flat.
"We just weren't able to match their intensity ... They came up really hyped," Moorer said. "[But] we didn't panic, and we just had to get the energy and intensity up."
Sophomore forward Telia McCall nailed a three-pointer with 2:17 remaining in the first half, which kicked off a 11-2 Cavalier run heading into break and narrowed the Lancers' lead to just seven points.
The Cavaliers opened the second half on a 7-0 run, tying the game at 34-34 on a Moorer lay-up with 18:11 left in the game. After trading baskets for the next few minutes, Virginia took the lead for good after McCall finished a lay-up with 10 minutes to go.
Virginia drastically improved its shooting from the floor in the second half, going 15-for-31. The Cavaliers outscored Longwood 47-29 in the second half en route to a comfortable 11-point victory.
Coach Debbie Ryan was disappointed at the Cavaliers' sluggish start against the Lancers but praised her team for its ability to come back against a hungry opponent.
"Longwood played a very strong game today and they deserve a lot of credit," Ryan said. "I was obviously disappointed with our start, and one of the things we need to learn as a team is figuring out our mindset as a team and as individuals coming into games. We'll work on this though, and when we got ourselves together [in the second half], we did all right. I am just concerned with working on our game and the way we came out initially, and [our players] knew that. Ariana Moorer had a tremendous game today, an outstanding floor game."
Virginia plays next in the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The team will face No. 17 Iowa State Thursday, No. 10 West Virginia Friday and No. 25 TCU Saturday. The team will then face No. 7 Ohio State Dec. 2 as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. A testament to how difficult the team's non-conference schedule is, this stretch of games against ranked opponents marks the first time the Cavaliers will have faced four ranked opponents consecutively since the program's 1992 Final Four run.
"We're going to be prepared, and be focused," Ryan said. "It's a challenge, but it'll be a good thing. We'll be ready to play"