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Cavs aim to right ship against Hoosiers

Coach emphasizes importance of crashing boards as Virginia looks to bounce back in Big Ten-ACC Challenge after disappointing road trip

On the heels of the men's squad's victory against Michigan Tuesday night, the Virginia women's basketball team will compete in its own Big Ten-ACC Challenge tonight against Indiana.

The Cavaliers (5-2) started the season by nabbing four straight wins - including a stunning victory against Pat Summitt's Lady Volunteers - but faltered twice during last weekend's Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown. The squad entered last weekend averaging 67.8 points and 44.2 rebounds per game, but throughout the tournament, put forth only 54.3 points and 29.3 rebounds on average.

"It was poor rebounding," Virginia coach Joanne Boyle said. "We never gave ourselves a chance for second chance points. We didn't keep people off the glass. They got free points at the free-throw line. So I think rebounding was the biggest factor in us not seeing more success out there."

Tonight, the Cavaliers must focus on boxing their opponent out as the Hoosiers (2-3) enter the matchup averaging a plus-two rebound margin - better than the Cavaliers' negative-two differential. In addition, at least one Indiana player has recorded a double-double in each game this season, while Virginia has only seen one of its athletes post such figures all year.

In an attempt to cure the team's recent rebounding woes, Boyle will start sophomore Jazmin Pitts in place of junior Simone Egwu at center. Pitts currently brings in four rebounds per game on average in her role off the bench, which is good for third best on the team.

"Jazmin is one of our most physical post players," Boyle said. "But she's just got to learn how to work hard every day. In the preseason, she got a taste of what it was to really work for something, and I thought she earned time at that starting position. She's got to be productive both defensively and on the boards."

Offensively, the Hoosiers and the Cavaliers both average nearly 62 points per game and tout similar shooting percentages from the field.

The Cavaliers hold the advantage defensively, however, as they allow a mere 53.1 points a game, compared to Indiana's 64.6. Despite the slight advantage, Boyle expects the Hoosiers to test the Cavaliers' tenacity on the boards.

"It will be a great challenge," she said. "[W]e're coming off of two games where we didn't rebound that well so it's going to be a focus for us to say, 'This is who we're going to be,' and it will be a great challenge to play someone who [is near the top of] the Big Ten in rebounding."

In addition to rebounding challenges, the Cavaliers will continue to try to learn how to stay consistent. After beating then-No. 3 Tennessee, the Cavaliers earned themselves a top-25 ranking.

Subsequent losses to Texas and California quickly booted the Cavaliers out of the polls, however.

Nevertheless, the players say they're ready to put forth another quality performance.

"What we need to start being able to change is the mentality of we are capable of being in the top 25, the top 15, the top 10," senior forward Chelsea Shine said. "We are capable of playing with the best and competing with the best. That's what this conference is, the ACC. We need to just develop that mindset that when we are going to compete with good teams."

Virginia is 3-1 in Big Ten-ACC Challenge games all time, while Indiana is 2-2.

Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.

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