Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Virginia tops Canes 83-72

The Virginia women's basketball team kept their season alive with an 83-72 victory tonight at University Hall. The game was quite different in almost every aspect from the first round game against St. Joe's. Virginia was able to find some shooting touch that was sorely missed in the first round of the NIT. At the end of the half, Virginia had 45 points, 3 less than they had scored all game against St. Joe's. A 10-0 run to end the half gave Virginia some critical cushion against a very talented Miami ball club. The Cavaliers led by 15 at the break.

The second half started perfectly with a three-pointer by Takisha Granberry which extended the lead. The margin peaked at 20 and hovered around the high teens early on. Miami would make a comeback though, led by star Tamara James. The ACC's leading scorer kept the trend going with 31 points and 10 rebounds. She was able to draw fouls and made a fair amount of them. A big bucket by Renee Taylor cut the deficit to 5, 70-65 with 3:18 to go. James, despite a strong outing, had a moment to forget committing a foul and a technical. This killed the Hurricane run which seemed to be overwhelming and gave Virginia enough of a margin to pull out the victory. This time around Virginia did much better at the line, going 18-26. In fact, if not for Lyndra Little's pervasive struggles, Virginia would be pretty tough to beat from the foul line.

Six Cavaliers scored in double figures, a huge contrast from last week's game. Sharnee Zoll and Brenna McGuire led the team with 16 points each. The success of McGuire is comforting for most Virginia fans, her ability to make shots gives the basketball team a chance to reach that next level.

"I got great open looks and kept shooting," McGuire said. "They went in tonight."

The shots went in for Siedah Williams and Tiffany Sardin as well, finishing with 13 and 12 points respectively. Williams had a great game, after a hard fall took her to the bench for most of the second half, she came back on to the floor and gave the Cavaliers a much needed boost. Every time a play had to be made, she was there. Sardin also played stellar defense despite fouling out. She did a solid job running the floor. Takisha Granberry and Lyndra Littles also added in 10 points each, helping give the Cavaliers the offense needed to take down this team.

"I thought Virginia's first half was their best offensive performance," Miami coach Katie Meier said. "I'm happy for Debbie and her players. The story of the 2006 postseason is that the ACC is dominating."

Next up for Virginia is the Pittsburgh Panthers on Friday. This contest has already been scheduled at Pittsburgh, so UVA must leave the friendly confines. Does this mean we have officially had the Last Ball at U-Hall....probably. If so, the women's basketball team took it out in style. They played a great game, an effort that can build into the next season.

The Cavaliers just hope next season isn't for a little while longer.


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