Women’s basketball topples Miami 69-64 in miraculous comeback

Senior guard Jocelyn Willougby led the charge, finishing with 25 points

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Virginia took control of the second half as it rallied to overcome a 22-point Miami lead.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia rallied behind a second-half performance to secure a victory over Miami at John Paul Jones Arena Thursday. The Hurricanes (12-12, 4-9 ACC) built a 22-point lead in the second quarter, but the Cavaliers (11-14, 6-8 ACC) managed to overcome the deficit. Senior guards Jocelyn Willoughby and Dominique Toussaint scored a combined 41 points to put Virginia back in contention. 

The majority of the first half went poorly for the Cavaliers. Miami went on an 11-2 run to start the first quarter and later continued the momentum on an 8-0 run. The score was 25-11 heading into the next period. 

Unable to find any sort of rhythm, the first period’s woes continued. The gap widened to 22 points with 5:27 remaining in the half. In response, Virginia scored five straight points to prevent an insurmountable lead. By the end of the half, however, an 18-point deficit still remained for the Cavaliers, as the score remained 42-24 at the break.

The entirety of the second half belonged to Virginia. The Cavaliers outscored the Hurricanes by 23 points and made their most impressive comeback of the season. 

While Virginia traded baskets with Miami for the first half of the third quarter, the game shifted course in the remaining five minutes as the Cavaliers went on a 12-0 run. Willoughby scored eight of 12 points during that stretch.

Entering the fourth quarter, the deficit was cut to six. As the clock winded down, Virginia continued to hang around Miami, trailing by a few possessions. In the final minutes of the game, the Cavaliers were down by four points after Willoughby sank a mid-range jumper. With 2:28 on the clock, Toussaint hit a timely three-pointer to put the game within a single basket. 

In the next possession, a defensive rebound by freshman guard Kylie Kornegay-Lucas led to a layup on the other end by Toussaint. The senior got the and-one and put Virginia up by two with 1:46 left.

In the next minute, senior forward Lisa Jablonowski made a layup of her own to gain a four-point advantage. In the final minute and a half, the Cavaliers went four-for-four from the free throw line to secure the victory by a final score of 69-64.

“[This win is] huge for us just because the things that we talk about, our kids can actually have a visual guide,” Coach Tina Thompson said. “There have been several games where we’ve gotten behind by quite a bit and we fought to be back in the game, but we’re losing by a two-point deficit … But this one, we literally came back all the way and we finished it with a [win].”

Virginia progressed offensively and defensively over the course of the game. The first quarter field goal percentage of 25 percent increased to 70 percent in the final period. The Cavaliers came out with more energy to erase such a large deficit.

“I think as a team we just started playing together more,” Willoughby said. “I was definitely able to feed off of our energy — getting stops and being hype in that moment, but then coming down and being aggressive on the other end.”

Virginia has won three of its past four games and looks to finish the remaining four games of the regular season on a high note. Up next, Virginia travels to Durham, N.C. to face Duke Thursday in Cameron Stadium at 7 p.m.

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