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Cavs come out strong vs. talented Miami squad

Women's basketball team erases memory of previous loss against Hurricanes

With five minutes to go in the second half, senior point guard China Crosby caught a pass from junior guard Ataira Franklin behind the arc and put up a shot. She sunk it, ended an 11-4 run from Miami and put a dagger in the Hurricanes’ comeback chances.

That was the story for the Virginia women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon, which relied on timely shooting to continually stymie Miami in a crucial 62-52 win at John Paul Jones Arena. Behind one of their most complete performances all year, the Cavaliers (12-6, 4-3 ACC) erased the memory of the Hurricanes’ (13-5, 4-3 ACC) win two weeks ago.

“They knew that this could be a signature win for us,” coach Joanne Boyle said. “I thought they did a really great job of taking care of the ball, executing and playing great defense.”

The Cavaliers asserted their dominance from the beginning, jumping out to a 16-6 lead on three early 3-pointers. Adept passing from Crosby and junior guard Kelsey Wolfe took advantage of holes in Miami’s defense.

“I thought they came out really sharp,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “They did a couple of things on offense that were different from their last game. They saw matchups that they could exploit and totally exploited them.”

On both sides of the ball, it became clear early on that Virginia would control the contest. The Cavalier defense shut down Miami on the perimeter, allowing just 2 points outside the paint in the game’s first 10 minutes. Miami had shot 30 percent from 3-point range going into the game but struggled to find shots against Virginia, going just 1-for-7 from beyond the arc in the first half.

The Cavaliers’ defense created opportunities on which the offense was able to capitalize, gaining 21 points from turnovers. With Crosby at point, the team seemed to find whatever openings they needed in the Hurricane defense, and the game was one of the most comprehensive performances Virginia has put together this year. Franklin found her stroke from three, going 3-for-3 and notching 17 points, and senior forward Telia McCall was strong in the paint, scoring 13 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

“I love it when I look down and I see four of our players in double figures, because there’s a lot of balance,” Boyle said. “I thought [Ataira Franklin] had a really good shooting night, and Kelsey. In different parts of the game, different people were stepping up. The first half felt like everything was going in.”

Miami proved resilient, however. The Hurricanes fought back throughout the second half, even cutting the lead to five with just five minutes to play, prompting Boyle to call a timeout.

“I told them, ‘We’ve been here before, what are you going to do, what do you want to be as a team?’” Boyle said. “They went out and they really did a great job. Those were times when a year ago, or even a couple of weeks ago, we would have hung our heads, and we didn’t. Playing that last five minutes the way we did, I was really proud of them.”

Crosby hit Wolfe for a layup and drained a 3-pointer of her own to bring the lead back to 10 points. Virginia never looked back, finishing the game off from the free-throw line down the stretch. For the Cavaliers, it was an impressive rebound from a 58-52 loss earlier in the season to the same Miami team. More than vengeance, the win gave Virginia momentum during the perpetually grueling ACC schedule.

“For what we said we are trying to do this year, we can’t afford to go 0-2 against any team,” Franklin said. “I think we took that [North Carolina] game to heart, and then we let it go and came out trying to be that team we were the three games before that.”


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