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Dec. 12, 2006

Virginia opens its four-game home stand with Cleveland State on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers then host No. 6/6 Connecticut on Monday, Dec. 18. Tip-off at JPJA is set for 7 p.m. espnU will televise the game live.

The Vikings, under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Kate Peterson, stand 2-9 after a 61-59 loss to Akron on Dec. 10. Freshman guard Jessica Roque is the only player averaging double figures with 11.2 ppg. Senior forward Nicole Thomas grabs a team-high 6.8 rpg.

Virginia is a perfect 3-0 against Cleveland State since the teams first met in 1984. When the teams last met in 2004, UVa claimed a 65-55 win in Cleveland.

Cleveland State associate director of sports information Alan Ashby returns to Grounds for the first time with the Vikings. A 1996 graduate of the University of Virginia, Ashby worked in the UVa Athletics Media Relations Office as a student assistant. At CSU he is responsible for coordinating the publicity efforts for women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, and fencing. He also coordinates the content for the athletic department’s web site and publications.

The No. 6/6 Huskies, under the helm of 22nd-year head coach Geno Auriemma, stand 6-0 after an 84-26 win at Georgetown on Dec. 7. Junior forward Charde Houston paces UConn with 14.5 ppg. Sophomore guard Renee Montgomery follows with 13.8 ppg, while junior guard Mel Thomas adds 12.5 ppg. Freshman center Tina Charles grabs a team-best 8.2 rpg.

Virginia and Connecticut are tied 2-2 in series action. The teams last met in the 1995 NCAA Tournament regional final in Storrs, Conn., with the Huskies winning 67-63. UVa and UConn first met at the 1991 Final Four in New Orleans with the Cavaliers advancing to the national championship game with a 61-55 win.

Connecticut assistant coach Tonya Cardoza, now in her 13th season, graduated from Virginia in 1991 with a degree in anthropology.

The Kodak District All-American also earned All-ACC honors twice and All-State honors three times during her Cavalier career. A four-year letterwinner, Cardoza helped the Cavaliers to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1991, Cardoza led Virginia to a 61-55 victory over UConn in the Final Four semifinal with team-highs of 16 points and three steals.

On Virginia’s career charts, Cardoza currently ranks No. 8 in points (1,622), No. 8 in field goals (630), No. 7 in field goal attempts (1,319), No. 8 in field goal percentage (.460), No. 5 in free throws made (338), No. 10 in rebounds (667), No. 5 in blocks (110), and No. 3 in steals (375).

For the fifth time in their illustrious coaching careers, UConn’s Geno Auriemma and UVa’s Debbie Ryan will square off on opposite benches. Before Auriemma became the Huskies’ head coach in 1986, he worked as an assistant coach under Ryan at Virginia for four seasons. Ryan credits Auriemma, a Philadelphia native, with discovering All-American Dawn Staley when she was in seventh grade.

Virginia picked up a 75-58 win at Marshall on Dec. 5 at the Cam Henderson Center, keeping the Thundering Herd from winning its 500th game in school history. Junior Sharneé Zoll (Marlboro, N.J.) paced Virginia with 19 points, including a career-high five treys. Freshman Monica Wright (Woodbridge, Va.) followed with 18 points, while sophomore Lyndra Littles (Washington, D.C.) netted her sixth double-double of the season (11th in her career) with 17 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Senior Brenna McGuire (Winchester, Mass.) rounded out the balanced scoring with 13 points. Overall, Virginia out-rebounded MU, 42-31.

After nine contests, sophomore Lyndra Littles leads the Cavaliers with 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Freshman Monica Wright follows with 13.9 ppg, while junior Sharneé Zoll adds 11.1 ppg and 45 assists. UVa out-scores its opponents by +11.3 points and out-rebounds its foes by +3.0 boards.

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