The Virginia women's basketball team knows it could have beaten Florida State earlier this season. When the team hosts the Seminoles tonight, it will have the chance to prove it.
"So many shots rimmed out in the Florida State game," coach Debbie Ryan said. During the team's win against Wake Forest last Thursday, "those shots went in. We played very good offensively and defensively and need to play this way consistently ... to translate what we do at practice to the game,"
Virginia's near-misses against Florida State translated into a measly 32.8 percent shooting from the field, including just 29.4 percent from three-point range. The team also committed 18 turnovers during that 61-51 loss in Tallahassee.
The Cavaliers, however, have been a more potent team at home this season. Virginia notched its second straight home win of more than 27 points Thursday evening, as it crushed Wake Forest 73-46. During that win, sophomore forward Telia McCall and freshman guard Ataira Franklin scored 12 points apiece, while the entire team shot 51 percent from the field.
"We knew we were going to have a breakthrough at some point," Ryan said of the win. "We really just wanted to relax a little bit, and just have a good time. When we do have a good time, we seem to play better."
Virginia will look for a similarly strong performance against the No. 19 Seminoles, who are hungry for a win after falling 84-75 to North Carolina in their last home game. Florida State currently sits tied with four other teams for second place in the ACC, and the team's 45.2 percent field goal percentage ranks second in the conference. Junior forward Cierra Bravard and senior guard Courtney Ward captain the Seminole offense, scoring 13.7 and 11.9 points per game, respectively. Bravard dropped 14 points against Virginia during their last meeting, but at least one Cavalier plans to match Florida State's scorers.
"I hate when people score on me," McCall said. "But when they score on me, I'm like, 'I'm gonna score on you.'"
The Cavaliers have struggled at times against teams with good interior presences, so they will try to strengthen those efforts against Bravard, one of the ACC's better post players.
If Virginia can limit Florida's offensive efforts, McCall is confident her team has the firepower to produce a win.
"When we work as a team, nobody can stop us on offense," she said. "We just have to get our defense down pat, and we'll score."
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.