ACC tournament offers final hope to Cavaliers
Before last week’s win over Florida State, UVa’s women had lost five straight games.
Associated Press | File January
Virginia Tech’s Uju Ugoka (14) will need to improve her shooting accuracy for the Hokies to beat No. 5 Miami.
Associated Press | File February
Virginia guard Ataira Franklin (23) and the Cavaliers will have to win the ACC tournament for a bid to the NCAAs.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The Virginia women’s basketball team began the season with hopes of making the NCAA tournament.
But this season hasn’t gone as well as the Cavaliers had hoped, and they have no shot at an at-large NCAA bid. The ACC tournament, which begins today, provides the Cavaliers with their only chance to make the NCAAs.
“We’re going to have to win it,” UVa coach Joanne Boyle said of the ACC tournament. “We weren’t able to take care of business down the stretch.”
An automatic NCAA bid will be at stake in Sunday’s title game, but odds are neither UVa nor Virginia Tech will still be alive at that point.
The 12th-seeded Hokies (10-19, 4-14) will meet fifth-seeded Miami (20-9, 11-7) at 11 a.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum. The sixth-seeded Cavaliers (16-13, 8-10) will face 11th-seeded Boston College (11-18, 5-13) at 8 p.m.
UVa, which has failed to make the NCAAs the past two years, is only No. 90 in the RPI.
Prior to last weekend’s win over nationally ranked Florida State, the Cavaliers had lost five straight games. Only one of those five losses was to a ranked team (Maryland).
“To be able to come in and beat a really good, quality team in Florida State, hopefully it gives us some confidence,” Boyle said. “I don’t think we had really been having the effort like we did against Florida State.”
UVa’s Kelsey Wolfe, the team’s second-leading scorer this season (10.6 ppg), suffered a season-ending injury when she tore her ACL in a Feb. 17 loss to Maryland. UVa lost the next three games before beating FSU.
Telia McCall (8.3 ppg) missed three of the games in the recent five-game skid because of a concussion. She has played the past two games.
“The injuries have hurt us,” Boyle said. “Losing Kelsey, … that was a big blow.
“Sometimes we only had six or seven kids in practice, so we just never got in a rhythm. … We played a lot of freshmen a lot of minutes that they weren’t necessarily ready for.”
UVa beat BC 69-57 on Jan. 24 with McCall but lost at BC 61-49 on Feb. 14 without her. Wolfe played in both games.
If UVa wins tonight, it will meet third-seeded and 15th-ranked North Carolina in Friday’s quarterfinals.
The Hokies lost at Miami 68-42 on Feb. 3 and fell to the Hurricanes 64-46 on Sunday.
“Defensively, we’re showing some real toughness and some real physicality and some real grit going into the tournament,” Miami coach Katie Meier said.
Tech led Sunday’s game at halftime but gave up 45 points in the second half.
“When we had opportunities that we didn’t convert on the offensive end, that led to [Miami] transition baskets where we got twisted around in our transition defense,” Tech coach Dennis Wolff said.
Tech shot just 25.5 percent from the field Sunday. Uju Ugoka and Monet Tellier were a combined 5 of 25 from the field.
“We’re not going to beat them if Uju and Monet’s shooting numbers are what they were in that game,” Wolff said. “We don’t have enough offensive firepower to do that.”
Wolff also wants his team to do a better job on the boards. Miami outrebounded Tech 48-34 on Sunday.
Boyle considers the tournament “wide-open.” Each of the top four seeds has lost one of its past two games. No team in the field has won more than two straight games.
Top-seeded Duke is ranked sixth nationally, but the Blue Devils lost their All-American point guard, Cheslea Gray, to a season-ending knee injury in a Feb. 17 game. Miami beat Duke last week.
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