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March 18, 2005

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.- – Virginia women’s basketball team arrived safely in Minneapolis, Minn., late Thursday evening for its appearance in the 2005 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Luckily the Cavaliers arrived before a major snow storm hit the city early Friday. Estimators expect nearly a foot of snow will be on the ground by game time.

The No. 6 seed Cavaliers (20-10) face No. 11 seed Old Dominion (22-8) in first round action on Saturday, March 19 at 6 p.m. CST (7 p.m. Eastern) on espn2. Host and No. 3 seed Minnesota then takes on No. 14 seed St. Francis in the second game at approximately 8:30 p.m. CST. The winners advance to second round action on Monday, March 21. Tip-off will be either 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. CST. Exact tip-off times will be announced following the conclusion of the first round games.

“We’re really pleased and proud to be here,” UVa head coach Debbie Ryan said in the pre-tourney press conference on Friday afternoon. “This is really a great reward for our season. After a one-year hiatus (from the NCAA Tournament), it’s rewarding to get to be back here. We play a really difficult opponent in Old Dominion.”

ODU is a familiar opponent for UVa. Long-time in-state rivals, Virginia beat Old Dominion, 72-64 on Dec. 10 in Charlottesville.

“I think one of the key things that helped us was our pressure defense,” senior Jocelyn Logan-Friend (Cheverly, Md.) said about UVa’s win over the Lady Monarchs earlier this season. “We started the game out in full-court press, and it bothered them a little bit. As far as things we can improve on, earlier in the season, we turned the ball over more than we do now, and I think that will be a key to this game. We need to take care of the ball.”

Virginia is making its 21st NCAA tourney appearance, the third most by any team in NCAA history.

“It was funny when we found out we were matched up with them, especially after playing them this year,” said senior LaTonya Blue (Baltimore, Md.). “We’re trying to move beyond the rivalry and the fact that we played them and won this season, because it’s tournament time, and every team is ready to compete. As long as we go out and are able to play, I think we’ll be fine.”

The Cavaliers are ready to make their presence known after missing the “Big Dance” last year.

“This is the University of Virginia; you have to expect that you are going to bounce back,” senior Brandi Teamer (Joliet, Ill.) said. “We don’t expect to stay down forever. It was very disappointing last year. We made up our minds, after the last game in the ACC tournament, that everybody is going to be committed, that everybody had to know their role. That they had to play their roles on the court, and that is what we are doing this year.”

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