Women’s basketball splits contests at Cavalier Classic

Senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds over the weekend

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Senior guard Dominique Toussaint was outstanding against UCLA, tallying 16 points on 75 percent shooting. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia women’s basketball hosted three teams — James Madison, UCLA and Central Florida — over the weekend for the annual Cavalier Classic at John Paul Jones Arena. 

James Madison, Nov. 30

Virginia hosted the James Madison Bulldogs Saturday to kick-off the Cavalier Classic in Charlottesville. The Bulldogs (6-2, 0-0 CAA) gave the Cavaliers (4-4, 0-0 ACC) all they could handle throughout the matchup, but a fourth quarter comeback saw Virginia defend home-court ahead of Sunday’s showdown against No. 11 UCLA. 

The first quarter had the makings of a blowout, as Virginia quickly jumped to a 23-7 lead at the end of the period. Virginia shot 50 percent from the field and connected on two three-pointers while holding James Madison to just 12 percent from the field and zero three-pointers on the other end — the second quarter saw a complete reversal from both teams.

In the second quarter, it was James Madison that controlled the pace and executed its offense while not allowing Virginia to make a single field goal. The Cavaliers’ only two points in the quarter came from free throws as Virginia struggled with turnovers and attacking James Madison’s zone defense. Virginia went into the halftime break with a 25-20 lead largely due to its dominating first quarter.

As the second half unfolded, James Madison again controlled the pace and rhythm of the game to its liking. The Bulldogs caught fire from beyond the arc — hitting five of seven three-pointers en route to shooting 54 percent from the field in the third quarter. Virginia opted to drive the ball inside more to gain the offensive momentum it lost in the second quarter. The Cavaliers connected on five of 10 shots in the quarter and entered the final quarter trailing 39-35 to James Madison.

A defensive war of attrition in the fourth quarter wound up defining the game. Virginia shot just 35 percent from the field, but netting seven of eight free throws contributed to the 20-point quarter for the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, James Madison could not sustain its third quarter shooting streak as the Bulldogs shot just 20 percent from the field and made only one of their six three-pointers. Virginia’s defense to close the game out proved to be the difference as James Madison didn’t make a field goal within the last eight minutes of the game. 

Senior forward Jocelyn Willoughby led the Cavaliers in points with 28, rebounds with 16 and assists with 3 and was the only Cavalier to score in double digits. After James Madison opened up an eight point lead with under nine minutes to go, Willoughby scored 13 of Virginia’s last 20 points to complete the comeback and seal the victory. Senior guard Lisa Jablonowski contributed nine points on four-of-six shooting — including a three pointer — and eight rebounds to cap off the Cavaliers’ fourth win of the season.

No. 11 UCLA, Dec. 1

In the second game of the weekend tournament, Virginia faced a tougher opponent in No. 11 UCLA. The Cavaliers fell 73-62 to the Bruins (7-0, 0-0 Pac-12), splitting their two games. Most notably, Willoughby followed up her career-day Saturday versus James Madison with another double-double — posting 22 points and 10 rebounds. 

The first quarter got off to a slow start with only two made field goals by either team at the 5:43 mark. However, the game quickly picked up when UCLA hit a three point jumper and a layup to go ahead 9-4 with 4:28 remaining. Nevertheless, Virginia responded with an 8-2 run catapulted by senior guard Dominique Toussaint’s game tying three-pointer jumper. Toussaint’s nine points helped the Cavaliers close out the first period ahead 17-13.

The second quarter saw a complete shift in momentum. In the first five minutes, the Bruins surged ahead with a 12-2 run to counter Virginia, with their lead eventually reaching 12 points with 2:58 remaining. Virginia fought back and managed a 7-0 run to end the half on a high note, going into the locker room down 35-30. 

The third quarter started even, with both teams trading buckets. With 4:22 on the clock, Toussaint cut the lead to two with a three-point jumper. Two possessions later, freshman guard Kylie Kornegay-Lucas made a timely steal and layup to tie the game up at 46-46. However, UCLA then managed to build up a six-point lead with 43 seconds remaining in the period. With time running down and the Cavaliers needing a quick score, senior forward Lisa Jablonowski knocked down a three-pointer to keep the Cavaliers in reach at 55-52.

Unfortunately, Virginia had a rough start to the fourth quarter, as the Bruins stretched their lead to 12 with a 9-0 run. The Cavaliers were unable to battle back from the deficit and fell to UCLA 73-62. 

Willoughby — the player of the game and tournament — averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds in Cavalier Classic. To add to even more impressive guard play, Toussaint finished with 16 points against the Bruins. 

The strong offensive performances set by these two seniors lifted the team’s low shooting percentages from the past few games. The Cavaliers shot 22-51 for 43.1 percent from the field in comparison to UCLA’s 38.8 FG percentage. 

Virginia women’s basketball is back in action on Thursday Dec. 5 at Rutgers. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. 

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