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Virginia mauls Mountaineers

Boyle registers first official win as head coach with 80-48 home success against Appalachian State

The Virginia women's basketball team rolled past Appalachian State in its home opener Friday night, 80-48, as coach Joanne Boyle led the Cavaliers to their seventh consecutive season-opening win in her head coaching debut in Charlottesville. Boyle also won her 10th straight opening day game, a streak dating back to her coaching stints with California and Richmond.

Senior forward Chelsea Shine led the Cavaliers to a 12-point halftime lead with 13 points in the opening 20 minutes. Shine was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in the first half, but she may have been even more impressive without the ball, snatching eight rebounds as she routinely outfought Mountaineer defenders to establish a presence in the paint.

"It's been a long learning process for us, so we were excited to come out tonight and show what we've been working on and show what we've learned," Shine said.

The Cavaliers (1-0) went with the same starting lineup they used for their exhibition against Alaska Anchorage, with junior guard China Crosby running the point. Crosby was flanked by senior guard Ariana Moorer and sophomore guard Ataira Franklin on the wings and had Shine and junior center Simone Egwu in the posts. Moorer, the 2010-11 ACC Sixth Player of the Year who led the Cavaliers in scoring while playing both guard spots and served as Crosby's primary backup at the point, has slid into Boyle's veteran starting lineup.

The starters set the tone early as the Cavaliers jumped out to a 6-0 lead they would never relinquish, but it was the bench that provided the burst of energy which spelled disaster for the Mountaineers (0-1). Sophomore forward Jazmin Pitts was first off the bench for the Cavaliers, checking in for Egwu with 15:02 left in the first half. Within 30 seconds, Pitts was on the board off a pretty feed from Moorer, powering over Appalachian State's leading scorer, junior forward Courtney Freeman, who was whistled for a foul on the play. After missing the ensuing free throw, Pitts stayed active and completed two more hard-fought lay-ups to give her six straight points for the Cavaliers and establish a 14-8 Virginia lead.

"I was on Jaz, I'll say it publicly, I've been on her a lot about her effort and consistency and playing every possession and playing every practice," Boyle said. "She's worked really hard and I saw a different Jaz this week in practice. For three days straight she was aggressive and she dominated. She deserved to come off the bench first and she earned it."

When sophomore guard Kelsey Wolfe - whose injury late was the only blemish on an otherwise superb night for Virginia - was replaced by junior guard Lexie Gerson, the Cavaliers led 14-10 with 10:51 to play in the first half. Three minutes later, the Cavaliers achieved a double-digit lead.

Gerson broke the game open by following a made free throw with back-to-back three pointers for her own 7-0 run, which extended the Cavalier lead to 21-10.

The Mountaineers failed to mount a comeback during the second half after the Cavaliers went into halftime with a 41-29 edge. Virginia stormed out of the break with a 12-2 run to put the game out of reach as Gerson's third three-pointer of the night put the Cavalier's up 53-31. Appalachian State shot 28 percent during the second half as it failed to mount any serious runs against a stifling Cavalier defense.

"The coaches have said, 'When someone punches, you punch back,' and I think the kids really understood what we meant by that tonight," Boyle said. "And that means that if someone starts to make a run, you got to just get down and play some dirty defense and get a rebound and stop the momentum, and I thought we did a really good job of that tonight."

A crowd of 3,108 at John Paul Jones Arena was rocking for most of the night but fell silent for a moment with 4:01 to play when Wolfe went down with an apparent leg injury. She writhed in pain for several minutes before being helped into the locker room. Boyle said after the game she thought the injury was not too serious and speculated that Wolfe may have strained her patella.

The Cavaliers will try to keep the momentum going tonight as they travel to Providence to play the Friars (0-1), who blew a 21-point first-half lead in their season opener against Boston College and fell 65-62 Friday.

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