Virginia Wins Season-Opener Over Longwood, 62-49
CHARLOTTESVILLE Virginia built an early lead and then finished strong to defeat Longwood, 62-49, Saturday night in John Paul Jones Arena. Enong Stovall and Aisha Mohammed both turned in double-double performances to lead the Cavaliers, who won their season-opening game for the third year in a row.
“We played fairly well defensively,” said head coach Debbie Ryan. “I spent an inordinate amount of time on defense this year and it’s a priority for this team. It’s an important aspect and now we’ll be spending more time on our chemistry offensively.”
Mohammed was impressive in her debut, scoring a game-high 16 points and adding 10 rebounds. The Lagos, Nigeria, native missed the 2006-07 season with an injury and was playing her first career game as a Cavalier. Stovall, meanwhile, also missed the 2006-07 season and made a triumphant return to the starting lineup with 10 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first career double-double efforts for both players.
Virginia built an early lead, allowing Longwood (0-2) to score just 14 points in the first half. Ryan used all of her 10 available players before halftime, with Stovall and sophomore Monica Wright leading the way with six points apiece to give Virginia a 31-14 lead heading into the locker room.
In the second half, the Lancers mounted a comeback and cut the lead to five points on two free throw shots by Keiva Small with 7:19 left in the game. The Cavaliers kept their composure down the stretch, however, and responded with a 6-0 run to extend the lead back to 11 at 53-42 at the 3:24 mark.
Fourth-year point guard Sharne Zoll hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in the game, and Virginia (1-0) prevailed, 62-49.
Zoll finished with seven points, while Wright and fellow sophomore Paulisha Kellum each netted eight. First-year Kelly Hartig (six points) and junior college transfer Kristen London (two points, four rebounds) also played in their first career game as Cavaliers.
In the total team effort, Jayna Hartig and Abby Robertson contributed key minutes while fourth-year Tara McKnight hit a 3-pointer just before halftime to give the Cavaliers a boost.
Virginia welcomes its first nationally ranked opponent of the year to the arena Monday night when it hosts No. 14/13 George Washington at 7 p.m.