Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back in the Groove

Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the Virginia women's basketball team traveled to take on the 18th/23rd Virginia Tech Hokies and came away with the impressive 78-59 victory.

The win was big for the team as the women notched their first ACC win of the year. After a disappointing 0-2 start, the season could have come crashing to a halt with yet another loss. Undeterred by a poor offensive performance against FSU, coupled with a defensive breakdown against North Carolina State, the Virginia women finally got it right, just in the nick of time.

"It's a huge boost for us," head coach Debbie Ryan said. "You can't put too much emphasis on one game in the ACC. You have to stay focused and on an even keel, win or lose."

This huge boost came from a reinvigorated emphasis on defense.

Our defense is usually pretty good,"Ryan said. "I'm pleased where we are now. This team has bought into the fact that if we want to win, we have to play defense."

The Hokies were held to 34.6% shooting in the first half, allowing Virginia to pull out to a 15-point lead at half. Virginia also won the rebounding war 34-32. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the offensive firepower in the first half. Virginia hit 60.7% of their shots, led by freshman Lyndra Littles. Littles finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, her fourth double-double on the season. PG Sharnee Zoll also had a big game with 13 points and 5 assists along with Takisha Granberry who chipped in a career-high 16 points off the bench. These players efforts helped contribute to a welcome but unexpected offensive first half surge.

"The first half was our best performance of the year," Ryan said.

Virginia cannot celebrate long. One rival may be down but next up is Maryland, ranked 6th in the nation. The Terrapins are coming to U-Hall this Friday and fans should be ready for quite the match up. Virginia will need to play great to pull off the upset, but they already took one ranked team down this week.

The win is not only big for the women's season, but for Virginia sports as awhole. Going into this weekend, the Commonwealth Challenge was fired up again. This competition awards points to the winner of every VT/UVA contest. The team with the most points win. Virginia came in with a comfortable 6-3 this past weekend, but let's be honest. Virginia was not favored in either one of these contests, and with the unpredictable nature of rivalry games, a 6-5 cushion is not safe at all. Instead both teams responded and the University owes them big thanks. UVA now leads 8-3. There are 22 events, so the magic number will be getting over 11.5 (some events are only 1/2 a point). Keep an eye out as we update the Challenge throughout the year.


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