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Cavaliers beat Clemson, 68-36

Seniors Moorer, Shine combine for 33 points to lead Virginia back to .500 record in ACC play

The Virginia women's basketball team showed its ability to apply full-court pressure and convert transition baskets during a 68-36 rout of Clemson yesterday.

The Cavaliers (18-8, 6-6 ACC) matched a 21-year-old school record with 26 steals and allowed a season-low 36 points. The Tigers (6-17, 2-10 ACC) scored the fewest points of any Virginia opponent since 2007.

All nine Virginia players notched at least one steal for Virginia, who wore pink jerseys as part of the Play 4Kay initiative to raise breast cancer awareness.

"We were just aggressive," senior guard Ariana Moorer said. "We said that from the start we were going to be aggressive for 40 minutes, and I think we did just that today, and our defense got us some transition buckets early."

Moorer filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, seven assists and six steals, doing the bulk of her damage during the game's decisive first ten minutes. She drained a three-pointer off a steal by junior guard Lexie Gerson to give Virginia an early 7-0 cushion.

Moorer hopes to lead the Cavaliers back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since her sophomore season when she took a backseat role to then-senior guard Monica Wright. She has been more assertive on offense in recent weeks as her collegiate career nears its conclusion, notching a spot as the team's top-scoring player in four of the last seven games. Moorer is also playing at a furious pace on defense, with 17 steals in her last three games.

"It just makes things a lot easier when my team's running and I can kick it up ahead and get them easy buckets," Moorer said.

Virginia effectively sealed the win with an 11-0 spurt when sophomore guard Kelsey Wolfe scored five straight points off the bench. Wolfe knocked down a three-pointer off a kickout by senior forward Chelsea Shine and finished on an up-and-under move off a steal by Gerson and assist by Moorer.

Gerson finished with nine points, nine rebounds, and five steals, and Virginia's bench outscored Clemson's 17-0.

Shine pieced together one of her best overall performances since conference play began. Shine was named ACC Player of the Week after the team's stunning upset against then-No. 3 Tennessee but has not been as effective during the second half of the year. She was left on the bench for nearly the final eight minutes of a Jan. 19 loss to then-No.11 Miami in favor of junior forward Telia McCall and sophomore forward Jazmin Pitts and, before yesterday, had scored in double figures just once in the last five games.

Shine finished with a game-high 20 points on 10-of-13 shooting and added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

"The good thing about this team is that everybody contributes in different ways and scoring falls on different people's shoulders on different nights, and tonight I guess I was just in the flow," Shine said.

The win gives Virginia its second winning streak in ACC play while Clemson dropped its third in a row and seventh in its last eight games. With the win, the Cavaliers improved to .500 in ACC play, including a pair of victories against the Tigers.

Virginia's weakness continued to be its ineffectiveness from beyond the arc, as the team made only 2-of-17 three-point attempts. The team had a slight scare when sophomore guard Ataira Franklin left the game midway through the second half with a sprained knee after making just 1-of-10 field goals and did not return. Coach Joanne Boyle said the move was a precaution and Franklin will be available to play during Thursday's game against No. 8 Maryland.

"For shooters it comes and goes, and you go through ups and downs with [a shooter's touch]," Boyle said. "Franklin really set the tone for us defensively and that's where we got some easy transition buckets so she has value to us even if she's not hitting her shot. But I would have liked her to try to get to the rim a little bit more, maybe use her pull-up, but her knee's fine and we're good for Thursday."

Virginia attempted 23 more field goals than the Tigers and shot 43 percent from the field while holding Clemson to 35 percent shooting. The Cavaliers also won the battle on the boards, 42-29, and made the most of their extra possessions, leading 19-0 in second chance points and 32-7 in points off turnovers.

Virginia will get its sixth chance to earn its first conference win against a ranked opponent when it hosts Maryland later this week. The Terps will be fresh off a disappointing 2-point loss to No. 6 Miami yesterday. The Cavaliers are in desperate need of a second statement win to pair with the upset of Tennessee to prove they belong in the NCAA tournament.

Boyle would not speculate on the team's prospects for earning an at-large tournament bid, but knows each win at season's end is critical to gaining the attention of the selection committee.

"[Today's win] gives us momentum," Boyle said. "It's a confidence builder. It's all the things you talk about when you're coming down the stretch. It's how the NCAA tournament looks at you with how you finish your last ten games, and for us, it's all about having a good last couple of games."